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The purpose of organisation charts

An organisation chart can be thought of as a two-dimensional model of an organisation. No such model can effectively convey the reality of executive responsibilities or the complexity of the interrela­tionships that exist between the different sub-systems. Organisation charts are, therefore, an attempt to illustrate the formal relationships in an organisation, the main lines of communication, and the flow of authority and responsibility through all levels of the management hi­erarchy. Above all, organisation charts provide a complete picture of the organisation in a way that is simple to understand.

Charts are used to show the whole organisation (system), the de­partments (sub-systems) within an organisation, or details of the de­partment or section only. Some organisation charts concentrate on the functions of organisation as opposed to the structure of personnel.

Relationships in a business organisation


This is a relationship which exists between a senior and his/her subordinate at any level of the organisation. For example, in Rayco Ltd. such a relationship exists between the Production Director and Production Manager, and between the Works Manager and Assistant Works Manager.


This is relationship which exists between those holding functional (or specialist) posts and those with direct executive responsibilities. For example, in Rayco Ltd the post of Personnel Director is a line manage­ment post only in the sense that the holder has authority over the staff in his own department. His main function is to advise and assist all the other departments or personnel matters. Because he is an expert in his field he is also empowered to make rulings which must be compiled with by staff over whom he has no direct line authority. If, for example, the Personnel Director has grounds for recruit a particular job applicant (because, possibly, of poor references), his authority for recruitment will over-ride the line director’s responsibility for selection.


This is the relationship between personnel working at the same level — that is, none is superior or subordinate to others. In Rayco Ltd such a relationship exists between the Production Manager and Works Manager.


The word staff here is used in the sense of a support. Such a relationship occurs, for example, between a managing di­rector and her personal assistant. The holder of such a post has no formal relationship with other persons within the organisation, nor does possess authority in her own right. This kind of relationship exists between the Managing Director and the Company Secretary in Rayco Ltd.


The number of people who are directly accountable to the same person constitutes the ‘span of control’ of that person.


Although, in theory, communication should pass up and down the line, if this were carried out in practice every supervisor would be­come a potential bottleneck. To avoid this, a sensible working ar­rangement may allow, for example, for a Progress Chaser in Rayco Ltd to establish ad hoc relationship with one or more of the Supervi­sors. Similarly, the line can be by-passed on occasions: the Sales Di­rector may, for example, find himself in a situation which would benefit from direct contact with one of the representatives.

The modern approach to relationships within an organisation stresses flexibility as far as sub-system boundaries are concerned. It is one of the tasks of management to link the various sub-systems to­gether, to ensure integration and co-operation, and to act as boundary agent between the organisation and the environment. The area of contact between one system and another is called an interface.

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