Original Research

Comparing the power and influence of functional managers with that of project managers in matrix organisations: The challenge in duality of command

Dylon Moodley, Margie Sutherland, Pieter Pretorius
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 19, No 1 | a1308 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v19i1.1308 | © 2016 Dylon Moodley, Margie Sutherland, Pieter Pretorius | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 January 2015 | Published: 02 March 2016

About the author(s)

Dylon Moodley, Gordon Institute of Business Science
Margie Sutherland, Gordon Institute of Business Science, South Africa
Pieter Pretorius, Gordon Institute Of Bsiness Scinec, South Africa

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Since its inception four decades ago, there has been widespread adoption of the matrix organisational design, particularly in project-based organisations. However, several challenges remain, one of which is related to the ambiguity of authority as a result of the dual command structure. This study examines the perceptions of the types of power and influence mechanisms used by the functional manager and the project manager to influence project personnel, and the effect of these mechanisms on attitudinal outcomes. The research used a two-phase design. The first qualitative phase validated the constructs of power and influence. In Phase 2, quantitative data was obtained from 22 functional managers, 28 project managers and 92 project personnel in South Africa, Italy and Canada from one large project execution technology company. There appears to be a large perceptual gap between project managers, functional managers and project personnel. Managers perceive themselves to be using aspirational and personal influence mechanisms, whereas project personnel perceive the managers to be using positional, punitive mechanisms. Relationships were observed between the perceived type of influence being used by the managers and the project personnel’s satisfaction with their manager, overall job satisfaction, their performance and level of engagement. Functional and project managers are associated with very different attitudinal outcomes among project team members.


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