Chain of command

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A chart showing clearly the line of authority and of responsibility of each individual in an organization will go far toward removing many inter-departmental jealousies.
- Lee Galloway (1914)

The chain of command is the line of authority and responsibility along which orders are passed within a organizational unit and between different units. In classical organizational theory this principle is also named the scalar principle.

Quotes[edit]

  • The scalar principle. An organization level consists of levels of authority arranged in a hierarchy from the Chief executive at the top and the workers at the bottom. The scalar principle holds that these levels represent gradation of distributed authority, each successive level downward representing a decreasing amount of authority, a decreasing scope of authority and often a different kind of authority.
    • A. S. Deshpande (1962), Factory Management and Business Organisation. p. 52
  • It is essentially to the very idea and concept of organization that we there must be a process, formal in character, through which the supreme co-ordinating authority operates throughout the whole structure of the organized body. This process is not an abstraction; it is a tangible reality observable in every organization. It appears in a form so distinct and characteristic that it practically names itself, — hence the term Scalar Process.
    • James D. Mooney and A.C. Reilley, Onward Industry!, New York: Harper and Bros, 1931. p. 31
  • The scalar process is the same form in organization which is sometimes called hierarchical. But in order to avoid all definitional ambiguities the term scalar is much to be preferred. A scale means a series of steps; hence, something graduated.
    • James D. Mooney and A.C. Reilley, Onward Industry!, New York: Harper and Bros, 1931. p. 31
  • Organization charts. — A chart showing clearly the line of authority and of responsibility of each individual in an organization will go far toward removing many inter-departmental jealousies. The chart should be so simple that it is self-explanatory upon inspection. Each man's position is thus made perfectly clear and he easily informs himself as to what course to take when transacting business with other departments. If applied to a factory, each workman will know to what particular gang boss or job boss he is directly responsible; each gang boss or job boss will know to what foreman he must report; and each foreman will know to what superintendent he is responsible; and each superintendent will know where his authority begins and ends with respect to other departmental heads. Further-more, the chart should show who is responsible for machines and equipment. To be most effective the chart should be hung in a conspicuous place. Each of the manufacturing departments should have one as well as the office; 24x36 inches is a suitable size. When made in the form of blue-prints charts are inexpensive, but they should be framed and protected by glass, to shield them from pencil markings and other injuries.
  • Mooney and Reiley were concerned with certain universal principles and contributed four principles of organization, namely, the coordinative principle, the scalar principle, the functional principle, and staff-line principle.
    • S. P. Naidu (2005) Public Administration: Concepts And Theories, p. 70
  • Scalar Principle ; It is also referred as 'chain of command' or 'scalar chain of command' or 'line or authority.'
    • N.V.R. Naidu (2010), Management and Entrepreneurship, p. 61
  • Scalar principle: pyramid shape of an organization designed to control employees through a cascading network of of superiors and subordinates.
Chain of command: the route that authority, responsibility, and communications travel within the hierarchy of an organization for the purpose of efficiency and order. For example, a captain orders a lieutenant to direct more preventive patrol to a certain neighborhood, or, alternatively, the lieutenant requests additional officers from the captain.
Unity of command: subordinates should report to only one superior.
Span of control: the number of subordinates that one superior can effectively supervise.
  • Philip P. Purpura (1997), Criminal Justice: An Introduction, p. 171

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External links[edit]

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