Staff authority

Staff authority
See also

Staff authority is "the right to advise, but not command, others who are not subordinates in the chain of command" [1]. It manifests itself only with advice and recognition when creating ideas. Nevertheless, the information or plans he presents must be approved by the line superior to be able to take effect. Here are some examples [2]:

  • "A market researcher who gathers and analyses data on marketing problems and advises the marketing manager on demand for new products,
  • An industrial engineer who prepares layout plans of plant equipment, production methods and operating standards based on time studies and forwards them for the acceptance of the production manager,
  • An internal auditor who checks the accuracy of accounting records and suggests to the head of the accounting department,
  • A personnel officer who advises the personnel manager on all dealings with unions".
  • "A manager in human resources at Sony might advise the manager in charge of Sony's Home Entertainment Business Group on a hiring decision but cannot order him or her to hire a certain applicant" [3].

In the staff department there is a so-called a functional authority that is passed on to a person or department to control matters and activities. This department oversees vertical coordination by providing its valuable specialist knowledge. Functional authority is not only for specific departments or people [4].

Line vs. Staff Authority[edit]

Staff Authority is often compared to a line authority, with the difference that this kind of authority has the right to command direct subordinates in the chain of command and the competence of the staff is narrower. In addition, the words line and staff also define various functions in the organization.

The line function is directly responsible for creating and selling company products. We can include activities undertaken in the production and marketing department.

On the other hand, the staff function, which includes accounting, human resources or legal services, does not respond to the above-mentioned activities. Its task is to support linear activities. It consists, for example, in the fact that the marketing managers agree with the legal staff whether or not it is legal to create the advertisement in question [5].

Levels of authority of a staff man[edit]

The competence of the staff manager varies depending on the level [6]:

  1. The lowest level - on this level the staff man abilities, status and knowledge are so small that the head of the line only consults him voluntarily.
  2. The second level - consultations are mandatory for each department, people of the line can not ignore the staff man when taking action.
  3. Third level - in this case, the authority of the staff man is so large that he is given concurring authority and only by his consent people can take any action. However, if the staff and people of the line do not agree, they can appeal to the next, higher rank.
  4. The highest level - the staff manager, instead of issuing a recommendation, has the power to direct orders to people from other departments.


  1. Ch. Williams 2012, pg. 502
  2. G. Murugesan 2014, pg. 67
  3. Ch. Williams 2012, pg. 502
  4. V.S. Bagad 2008, pg. 94
  5. Ch. Williams 2012, pg. 503
  6. G. Murugesan 2014, pg. 67


Author: Angelika Guzik