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The Importance of Accountability and Informing the Chain of Command 1. There are numerous criteria upon which theorists and practitioners of managerial science discuss the essence of the chain of command in organization. The majority indicates that by its nature the chain of command is a formal channel that defines the lines of authority from the top to the bottom of the organization. Peter Lorenzi affirms that the chain of command is a series of superior-subordinate relationships from the highest position in the company to the lowest (Lorenzi, 39). However, another practitioner Susan Cominiti Skinner views the chain of command as a communication link among all positions in organization. Thus, it is reflected on all communicative flows within organization (Cominiti, 96).
2. The chain of command inseparably linked with the issue of accountability in the organization. In most cases, building an effective chain of command requires thorough development of accountability system. Explaining design of organizational structure, Crosby indicates the necessity of any organization to determine the optimal span of accountability, wide or narrow (Crosby, 235). Although in practice there is no formula for determining the ideal span of accountability, the main objective is to develop a flatter, more responsive organizational structure in which both span of accountability and chain of command become transparent and flexible. 3. Going beyond the constraints imposed by the chain of command can be appropriate under certain circumstances, however only an officially sanctioned way. The majority of organizations still has hierarchal nature, therefore everything is built around flows, chains and spans.
In case of emergencies, special channels should be created for personnel to act accordingly and within boundaries of these channels. Typically, job responsibilities and specification are carefully prescribed and the job holder at the lowest level is accountable to a firstline manager, who in turn is accountable to someone on a higher level. Practitioners allege that in order to be effective this chain of command may extend up to five levels, depending on the size, structure and complexity of the organization. 4. In conditions of constantly changing organizational structures, employees at all levels are expected to do what is necessary to achieve companys goals. The interrelatedness of personnel at all organizational levels, the use of teams, quality circles, empowerment and increasing contact lower staff members with clients and the public tend to weaken the strong links of the chain of command. However, the principles of chain of command are not debased only by low level personnel. Contemporary studies indicated that in 68% of cases, the chain of command is violated on the middle and high managerial levels. 5.
According to traditional interpretation of the chain of command and accountability, in problematic circumstances, the employee will address an immediate supervisor, but sometimes it does not solve the dilemma. The manager may act in a way that is not consistent with the employees judgment of the situation, thus the employee needs to conform to organizational policies or precedents. 6. Stephan H. Haeckel introduced fundamentally new approach to management and company structure, called a sense-and-respond organization. According to Haeckel sense-and respond company does not consist of employees bounded by the chain of command, but of context givers.
Thus, employees set the context for how the company functions in several ways, namely by focusing the purpose of the organization on its primary objectives, by establishing the basic policies and potential channels everyone in the organization must conform to, and by developing a accountability design, which organizes employees by the roles they perform (Haeckel, eWeek). Haeckel believes that the developed organizational scheme is able to resolve some important critical aspects in the hypothesis of the chain of command and accountability in the organization. Bibliography Lorenzi P. Human Side of Organizations. New York:McGraw-Hill, 1995 Cominiti S. What Team Leaders Need To Know. Fortune, February 20, 1998 Crosby P.
Quality is Free. New York: Mentor, 1999 Haeckel S. How to Create and Lead an Adaptive Organization. eWeek, October, 2003.
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