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Instruction: Below is a dicussion post authored by one of my peers in my class. I need someone to respond to the post. You are to engage (react/respond). These responses should be at least 500 words each in length and at least one (1) scholarly reference. Students are encouraged to review the articles, etc. used by fellow students. Where you see an opportunity to pose a challenging question, please do so! Be sure to state what you consider are the strengths and weaknesses of their argument and why this might or might not influence you to change your own answer. 

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Advantages and Disadvantages to a Matrix Structure

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Respond in one or more of the following ways:

Ask a probing question

Share an insight from having read your fellow learners’ posting

Offer and support an opinion

Expand on your fellow learners’ posting

You can respond by providing a summary and an APA reference to research in the literature

 

The matrix structure is used in times where a business needs to have a multi-focused approach to either product and function, or product and geography (Daft, 2013). Furthermore, this approach can also be used when both technical expertise and product innovation and change are essential for meeting the goals of the organization. What is unique about the use of the matrix structure is that it addresses both horizontal (product divisions) and vertical (functional structures) components simultaneously, and the managers of both sides have equal authority within the organization (Daft, 2013).

 

There are certain criteria that should be evaluated before deciding if the implementation of this structure is the correct decision. The first condition is that the pressure exists on the business to share limited resources among the different product lines. This typically will occur in a medium-sized business in which there are a moderate number of different product lines (Daft, 2013). There is also the pressure for the shared use of employees and equipment among those product lines, simply because the business is not large enough to justify the hiring of a dedicated employee to that particular position.

 

The second condition is that environmental pressure exists for two or more critical outputs. These can include in-depth technical knowledge, and the constant and reliable innovation of new products. These combined pressures mean that there needs to be a balance of power between the functional and product divisions within the company, and a “dual-authority” structure is needed to ensure that balance is maintained (Daft, 2013). The final criterion is when the environmental realm of the business is very complex and ambiguous. This includes the presence of frequent external changes and high interdepartmental dependence, requiring a large amount of coordination and data processing (Daft, 2013).

 

Advantages and Disadvantages to a Matrix Structure

 

The matrix structure is the best fit for a business when the environment they are working in is constantly changing, and when the company goals are dual purpose, such as goals for both product development and functionality (Daft, 2013). Because the matrix structure is based on a dual authority concept, it inherently facilitates communication and coordination to recognize, react, and adjust to changing environmental conditions, and enables an equal and efficient balance between the functional and product managers (Daft, 2013).

 

Furthermore, the matrix structure allows for discussion and adaptation to new and unexpected problems, and tends to be the most effective when working in a medium sized business with several different product lines. This is because medium to moderate sized businesses will usually have several different products, but it would not be economically practical to hire dedicated staff for each individual line. Smaller businesses, for the most part, will run only one, maybe two different product lines, making the matrix system unnecessary. Large corporations will have the resources available to have dedicated employees to each of the products, but additionally, the more product lines a company has, the more difficult it will be to coordinate all of the directions at the same time (Daft, 2013).

 

Another advantage to using the matrix structure is that it makes a company more reliable to consumers, because of its ability to meet more than one demand at any given time. Employees and equipment in this structure are very flexible and are able to be adapted to any of the product lines at any given time. This gives the business a competitive advantage over their more rigid counterparts, as they will be able to change more quickly to the environmental conditions. Finally, a last advantage to using this structure is that it allows employees an opportunity to obtain or refine general management skills, depending on their particular area of interest (Daft, 2013).

 

One big disadvantage to using the matrix structure is the conflict employees will sometimes experience between the two managers they are reporting to. This can lead to conflicting and contradictory demands and expectations, and naturally, will lead to frustration and confusion among employees. This can be further exacerbated if there is ineffective or poorly communicated definitions of roles and responsibilities from upper management (Daft, 2013). It also takes a specific kind of employee to be able to work in the matrix environment due to its intensive teamwork and collaborative nature. These people need to possess excellent interpersonal, conflict resolution, and problem solving skills, which will sometimes require special or additional training in human relations (Daft, 2013).

 

The matrix is also a very meeting intensive structure for managers, and these people must adapt to the information and authority sharing nature of the system, or the system will simply not work. There is much more reliance on collaboration amongst management, rather than relying on vertical authority, or upper management when it comes to decision making (Daft, 2013). The matrix structure can be a very beneficial system to use in those businesses that cannot justify the use of dedicated personnel, or when it is simply too large to be able to coordinate amongst the managers. However, if the organization does not have the right group of people working for them, the system can fail, and this would end up being costlier in the long term.


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