Journal of Management & Governance

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 435–454

Unitary, Divisional, And Matrix Forms As Political Governance Systems


DOI: 10.1007/s10997-006-9009-y

Cite this article as:
Whitford, A.B. J Manage Governance (2006) 10: 435. doi:10.1007/s10997-006-9009-y


In this study I reassess a set of fundamental organization forms (unitary, divisional, and matrix) as agenda-setting and political governance systems. My method of analysis is based on how political scientists study agendas in committees. Specifically, I first recount that moving from a functional (unitary) to a product-line (divisional) structure increases the types of conflict referred from lower to higher levels of the hierarchy, but does not increase the amount of conflict referred. I then show that moving from a product-line to a matrix structure increases the amount and the types of conflict referred to higher levels of the hierarchy; that it is possible in matrix forms that no conflict is resolved at the lowest levels of the hierarchy; and, that accountability is reduced for those who are able to refer conflict. The study reveals implications for matrix forms that derive from this view of organizations as agenda-setting and political governance systems. This analysis fits with the recent history of matrix forms in a variety of organizations.


agenda-setting authority conflict resolution hierarchy matrix 

JEL Classifications

D23 L22 L23 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Associate Professor, Department of Public Administration and Policy, School of Public & International AffairsThe University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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