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Related Links: Flat structure | Matrix Structure | Centralised/Decentralised Structure | Hierarchical Structure | Tall Structure


In its simplest form a tall organisation has many levels of management and supervision. There is a “long chain of command” running from the top of the organisation eg Chief Executive down to the bottom of the organisation eg shop floor worker. The diagram below neatly captures the concept of a tall structure.

Diagram: Tall Structure

Tall Structure

How Many Levels Do Tall Structures Have?

However, tall structures rarely exceed 8 levels of management. This is firstly because the number of layers (i.e. management levels) decreases the span of control. Secondly the disadvantages of the tall structure begin to outweigh the advantages of a tall structure.


Advantages of Tall Organisations Disadvantages of Tall Organisations
There is a narrow span of control ie each manager has a small number of employees under their control. This means that employees can be closely supervised. The freedom and responsibility of employees (subordinates) is restricted.
There is a clear management structure. Decision making could be slowed down as approval may be needed by each of the layers of authority.
The function of each layer will be clear and distinct. There will be clear lines of responsibility and control. Communication has to take place through many layers of management.
Clear progression and promotion ladder High management costs because managers are generally paid more than subordinates. Each layer will  tend to pay it’s managers more money than the layer below it.

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