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09.10.2014
Explain what a matrix structure is and the challenges of working in a structure such as this.
Define learning organizations, and list the steps organizations can take to become learning organizations. Matrix organizationsmatrix organizationsOrganizations that cross a traditional functional structure with a product structure. The matrix structure is used in many information technology companies engaged in software development. Boundaryless organizationboundaryless organizationAn organization that eliminates traditional barriers between departments as well as barriers between the organization and the external environment.
A learning organizationlearning organizationOne where acquiring knowledge and changing behavior as a result of the newly acquired knowledge is part of an organizationa€™s design. In learning organizations, experimentation and testing potentially better operational methods are encouraged.
Learning organizations are also good at learning from experiencea€”their own or a competitora€™s. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of being employed by a boundaryless organization? Over 100 years passed between the invention of the first reliable steam engine and the first practical internal combustion engine. Previously nonexistent industries, such as those related to high technology, have demanded flexibility by organizations in ways never before seen. Specifically, employees reporting to department managers are also pooled together to form project or product teams.
Business analysts, developers, and testers each report to a functional department manager and to a project manager simultaneously.
Sportswear manufacturer Nike is another company that uses the matrix organization successfully.
This is true not only in response to environmental threats but also as a way of identifying future opportunities. During these early days of advancement, communication would often go hand in hand with transportation. The diverse and complex nature of the current business environment has led to the emergence of several types of organizational structures. One form is the modular organizationmodular organizationAn organization where all the nonessential functions are outsourced., in which all nonessential functions are outsourced. In learning organizations, experimenting, learning new things, and reflecting on new knowledge are the norms. 3M is one company that institutionalized experimenting with new ideas in the form of allowing each engineer to spend one day a week working on a personal project.


Some companies choose to conduct formal retrospective meetings to analyze the challenges encountered and areas for improvement. They facilitate information flow and reduce response time to customers but have challenges because each employee reports to multiple managers. As a manager, what could you do to help your subordinates who have other bosses besides yourself?
Instead of delivering mail hundreds of miles by horse, messages could be transported more quickly by train and then later by plane. Beginning in the 1970s, management experts began to propose organizational designs that they believed were better adapted to the needs of the emerging business environment.
Instead of completely switching from a product-based structure, a company may use a matrix structure to balance the benefits of product-based and traditional functional structures. Because multiple managers are in charge of guiding the behaviors of each employee, there may be power struggles or turf wars among managers. The idea behind this format is to retain only the value-generating and strategic functions in-house, while the rest of the operations are outsourced to many suppliers.
At the same time, there are many procedures and systems in place that facilitate learning at all organization levels. At IBM, learning is encouraged by taking highly successful business managers and putting them in charge of emerging business opportunities (EBOs). To learn from others, these companies vigorously study competitors, market leaders in different industries, clients, and customers.
Boundaryless organizations blur the boundaries between departments or the boundaries between the focal organization and others in the environment.
Each structure has unique qualities to help businesses handle their particular environment.
As managers are more interdependent compared to a traditional or product-based structure, they will need to spend more effort coordinating their work. IBM is a company that has no difficulty coming up with new ideas, as evidenced by the number of patents it holds. By benchmarking against industry best practices, they constantly look for ways of improving their own operations. These organizations may take the form of a modular organization, strategic alliance, or self-managing teams. Cross-functional structures: A review and integration of matrix organization and project management. From the telegraph to the telephone to the computer to the Internet, each advancement brought about a need for an organizationa€™s structure to adapt and change.
As a result, each person reports to a department manager as well as a project or product manager.


From the employeea€™s perspective, there is potential for interpersonal conflict with team members as well as with leaders.
By managing relationships with hundreds of suppliers, Toyota achieves efficiency and quality in its operations. Yet commercializing these ideas has been a problem in the past because of an emphasis on short-term results. In a matrix structure, product managers have control and say over product-related matters, while department managers have authority over matters related to company policy.
The presence of multiple leaders may create role ambiguity or, worse, role conflicta€”being given instructions or objectives that cannot all be met because they are mutually exclusive.
Strategic alliancesstrategic alliancesA form of boundaryless design where two or more companies find an area of collaboration and combine their efforts to create a partnership that is beneficial for all parties. For example, Xerox uses anthropologists to understand and gain insights to how customers are actually using their office products.[312] By using these techniques, learning organizations facilitate innovation and make it easier to achieve organizational change.
Matrix structures are created in response to uncertainty and dynamism of the environment and the need to give particular attention to specific products or projects. The necessity to work with a team consisting of employees with different functional backgrounds increases the potential for task conflict at work.[307] Solving these problems requires a great level of patience and proactivity on the part of the employee. Using the matrix structure as opposed to product departments may increase communication and cooperation among departments because project managers will need to coordinate their actions with those of department managers.
In this form, similar to a joint venture, two or more companies find an area of collaboration and combine their efforts to create a partnership that is beneficial for both parties.
In fact, research shows that matrix structure increases the frequency of informal and formal communication within the organization.[306] Matrix structures also have the benefit of providing quick responses to technical problems and customer demands. As an example, Starbucks formed a highly successful partnership with PepsiCo to market its Frappuccino cold drinks. Starbucks has immediate brand-name recognition in this cold coffee drink, but its desire to capture shelf space in supermarkets required marketing savvy and experience that Starbucks did not possess at the time.
By partnering with PepsiCo, Starbucks gained an important head start in the marketing and distribution of this product. Finally, boundaryless organizations may involve eliminating the barriers separating employees; these may be intangible barriers, such as traditional management layers, or actual physical barriers, such as walls between different departments.



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