Linn C. Stuckenbruck, Ph.D. Institute of Safety and Systems Management University of Southern California Los Angeles, California
A matrix organization is defined as one in which there is dual or multiple managerial accountability and responsibility. However, the term matrix means quite different things to different people and in different industries. 1, 2 In a matrix there are usually two chains of command, one along functional lines and the other along project, product, or client lines. Other chains of command, such as geographic location, are also possible.
The matrix organizational form may vary from one in which the project manager holds a very strong managerial position to one in which only a coordinating role is played. To illustrate the organizational principles, first a matrix will be considered in which there is a balance of power between the project and functional managers. It must be recognized that such a balanced situation, considered by some authorities to be ideal, probably seldom occurs in practice.
In a balanced matrix organization various people in the organization have two bosses (Figure 6-1). This represents an abandonment of the age-old management concept: "Thou shalt have but one boss above thee." None of the re