Challenges and Strategies of Matrix

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Challenges and Strategies of Matrix Organizations: Top-Level and Mid-Level Managers’ Perspectives Thomas Sy, College of Business Administration, California State University, Long Beach; Laura Sue D’Annunzio, A.T. Kearney Inc. U sing surveys, inter- views, and workshops with 294 toplevel and mid-level managers from seven major multinational corporations in six industries, we identified the top five contemporary challenges of the matrix organizational form: (1) misaligned goals, (2) unclear roles and responsibilities, (3) ambiguous authority, (4) lack of a matrix guardian, and (5) silo-focused employees. We also provide managers with the best practices that will improve their matrix organizations. Interest in…show more content…
The matrix also can require more managerial and administrative support at a time when companies appear to be cutting back. Although all matrix forms have inherent flaws, CEOs adopt the matrix because they believe the strengths outweigh the flaws. Matrix organizations are adopted for four primary reasons (Burns & Wholey, EXHIBIT 2 Matrix Strengths and Weaknesses STRENGTHS businesses as evidenced by its proliferation in a variety of industries, such as aerospace, automotive, banking, chemical, communications, computer, defense, electronics, financial, energy (Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Galbraith, 2000). The continued proliferation associated with the use of the matrix confirms a need for information on the challenges and best practices. In this article, we report the findings of our research on contemporary issues of the matrix. To date, few studies have examined the human side of the matrix (some exceptions are Bartlett & Ghoshal, 1990; Lawrence, et al., 1977). Most topics on the matrix focus on its structure and its variant forms (e.g., Goold & Campbell, 2002), rather than the human side—issues concerned with managing and operating in the matrix. In this study, we focused on the human side of the matrix as the findings provide actionable steps that managers can implement to improve the functioning of their organizations. We begin with a brief overview of the matrix. We then identify the top five challenges
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