Matrix management

Matrix management
A matrix organization

Matrix management is a type of organizational management in which people with similar skills are pooled for work assignments. For example, all engineers may be in one engineering department and report to an engineering manager, but these same engineers may be assigned to different projects and report to a different engineering manager or a project manager while working on that project. Therefore, each engineer may have to work under several managers to get their job done.


The matrix

Some organizations fall somewhere between the fully functional and pure matrix. These organizations are defined in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) 4th Edition as composite. For example, even a fundamentally functional or matrix organization may create a special project team to handle a critical project.

Whereas project-centered organizations (like those in engineering, construction or the aerospace industries) have structures built around project teams as their functional units, matrix organizations follow the traditional structures, with some adjustments to their hierarchy to support project units.[1]


Proponents of matrix management suggest that there are two advantages to matrix management. First, it allows team members to share information more readily across task boundaries. Second, it allows for specialization that can increase depth of knowledge and allow professional development and career progression to be managed.

The disadvantage of matrix management is that employees can become confused due to conflicting loyalties. The belief is that a properly managed cooperative environment can neutralize these disadvantages.

Opponents of matrix management believe that it is an outdated method to organize a company.

One disadvantage of matrix management is that it doubles the number of managers when compared to line management, and as the time to reach a decision increases with the number of managers the result may be an increase in management related overhead expenses.

Advantages and disadvantages

The advantages of a matrix include:

  • Individuals can be chosen according to the needs of the project.
  • The use of a project team which is dynamic and able to view problems in a different way as specialists have been brought together in a new environment.
  • Project managers are directly responsible for completing the project within a specific deadline and budget.

Whilst the disadvantages include:

  • A conflict of loyalty between line managers and project managers over the allocation of resources.
  • Projects can be difficult to monitor if teams have a lot of independence.
  • Costs can be increased if more managers (i.e. project managers) are created through the use of project teams.

Visual representation

Representing matrix organizations visually has challenged managers ever since the matrix management structure was invented. Most organizations use dotted lines to represent secondary relationships between people, and charting software such as Visio and OrgPlus support this approach. Until recently, Enterprise resource planning (ERP) and Human resource management systems (HRMS) software did not support matrix reporting. Late releases of SAP software support matrix reporting, and Oracle eBusiness Suite can also be customized to store matrix information.


Matrix management should not be confused with "tight matrix". Tight matrix, or co-location, refers to locating offices for a project team in the same room, regardless of management structure.


  1. ^ Seet, Daniel. "Power: The Functional Manager’s Meat and Project Manager’s Poison?", PM Hut, February 6, 2009. Retrieved on March 2, 2010.

Further reading

  • Galbraith, J.R. (1971). "Matrix Organization Designs: How to combine functional and project forms". In: Business Horizons, February, 1971, 29-40.
  • "A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)", Project Management Institute, ISBN 1-880410-23-0
  • R J Shepherd (2007). "Mentoring Soft Boundaries for Management", , MIDAS MDF 2007;2:79-89

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