Cross-functional structures: a review and integration of matrix organization and project management
Robert C. Ford
In this article, we review and summarize the literature on cross-functional
organization forms that has been published since 1976. We
focus on the commonalities of the literatures that deal with matrix organization
and project management. With a definition of cross-functional
organization in hand, we review the literature for advantages
and disadvantages of these organization forms, ending the section with
a discussion of the great need for empirical research to resolve numerous
questions and paradoxes. Finally, we review a model for effective
cross-functional organizations, comprising environmental influences,
organizational characteristics, project characteristics, project team
characteristics, project leader characteristics, and project effectiveness.
Each section ends with a discussion of needed research, and the
article ends with a call for research and theory building regarding
cross-functional organizations, which continue to grow in application
In a 1976 article entitled “Matrix Organization: A Review” Kenneth Knight concluded, “Matrix or similar structures are springing up wherever one looks, and the sooner we find out how to organize and operate them harmoniously and effectively, the better it will be for people who work in them.” (130). Given the relatively limited amount of empirical research Knight found and the large and growing popularity of matrix and its related concept of project management, the question arises as to how much new knowledge has been added to our understanding of these organizational forms since 1976. The purpose of this review is to seek the answers to this question through an extensive search of the literature to identify what both practitioners and academics know or think they know about the definitions, advantages, disadvantages, and characteristics of effective matrix structures.
This review is not exhaustive, as the literature on these topics is vast. Indeed, an ABI/Inform Dialogue search of the literature since the Knight review (from 1977 through 1991) yielded a listing of over 2585 items for project management and 74 for matrix management. This review focuses, therefore, on empirical research and a representative sampling of the other writings on these topics. This literature, as will be shown, is dominated by anecdotal and opinion-based articles. The lack of empirically based articles is not surprising in the face of the continuing confusion over what these terms actually mean and the lack of development of any solid theoretical framework within which hypotheses might be formulated and tested. Still, it is disturbing. Hence, it is also the purpose of this review to renew academic interest in theory building and research activity in the study of matrix structures and project management. While these topics have gone largely ignored by scholars, practitioners continue to use them and use them extensively. Indeed, in the period of time since Knight admitted how little we really knew about the area of matrix organizations and its use in the management of projects, the Project Management Institute (founded in 1969) has grown to over 5000 members worldwide.
This review is organized as follows. First, we will provide clarifying definitions of matrix and project organizations. Next, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of these structures, concluding the section with suggestions for future research, including some of the apparent paradoxes that are discovered. The final section of the article offers a model that serves to organize those factors that appear to contribute to the effectiveness of a matrix structure. This model should prove useful in generating hypotheses for further empirical study of the factors contributing to effectiveness of matrix structures. Indeed, each section ends with suggestions for future research.
Defining Matrix Organization and Project Management
Matrix organization continues to elude definition even after more than 30 years of use in work settings. It exists in various forms across a wide range of organizations including engineering and aerospace firms (Poirot, 199 1), research & development organizations (Allen, Lee, & Tushman 1980; Katz, 1982; Keller, 1986; Wolff, 1982), marketing, financial, and international organizations (Davis Lawrence, 1977), health care providers (Allcorn, 1990; Boissoneau, 1989; Bums, 1989; Ryan, 1980), MIS organizations (Beath, 1983; Ford & McLaughlin, in press(b); White, 1984; Zmud, 1984; Dos Santos, 1988; Walsh & Kantor, 1988) as well as manufacturing and non-manufacturing organizations (Rowen, Howell, Gugliotti, 1980). This variety of uses and forms makes it difficult to find consensus on a concise and precise definition. Often, matrix management is whatever a company defines it to be or how a researcher defines it for purposes of a study. Project management, likewise, has come to mean a variety of things and, when the two terms are used together, the definitional confusion is compounded. Following Davis and Lawrence (1977), therefore, we shall define matrix as “any organization that employs a multiple command system that includes not only a multiple command structure but also related support mechanisms and an associated organizational culture and behavior pattern” (3). For project management, we shall use the definition of Cleland and King (1983): project management is a “combination of human and nonhuman resources pulled together in a |temporary’ organization to achieve a specific purpose.” (187).
In the literature, the terms matrix management, project management, matrix organization and project organization are frequently interchanged. All of these terms refer to some type of cross-functional organization because they invariably involve bringing people together from two or more usually separated organizational functional areas to undertake a task on either a temporary basis (as in a project team) or on a relatively permanent basis (as in a matrix organization). A close search of the literature reveals certain characteristics that generally apply to this variety of terms. Let us review these characteristics and then return to a working definition to integrate our review of the use of these organizational forms.
One of the most common characteristics associated with the use of the terms matrix and project is the “mixed” or “overlay” organizational form in which traditional, vertical hierarchy is “overlayed by some form of lateral authority, influence, or communication.” (Galbraith, 1971; Knight, 1976; Larson & Gobeli, 1987). As depicted in Figure 1, the vertical hierarchy is traditionally functional and the horizontal “overlay” typically consists of projects, products, or business areas. Along these two dimensions, the matrix structure exhibits a second common characteristic; namely, dual lines of authority, responsibility, and accountability that violate the traditional “one-boss” principle of management (Davis Lawrence, 1977; Denis, 1986a; Knight, 1976; Galbraith, 1971; Kerzner, 1984; Cleland & King, 1983). Indeed, this is the key characteristic of matrix management. The matrix, then, is a coordinative structural device which “constructively blends the program orientation of project staffs with the specialty orientation of functional personnel in a new and synergistic relationship” (Wall, 1984:30).
Most writers place matrix organizations at the center of a continuum, as seen in Figure 2, between purely functional type organizations and purely product type organizations (Cleland & King, 1983; Galbraith, 1971; Kerzner, 1984; Larson Gobeli, 1987; Meredith & Mantel, 1989; Might & Fischer, 1985). On the functional end of this continuum is the traditional hierarchical structure divided along functional, lines such as marketing, production, and accounting. On the other end of the continuum is the pure product organization. Here, a separate team is formed, duplicating the functional structure but organized under a product manager (Larson & Gobeli, 1987). Matrix organizations are somewhere in between these end points. They are temporary in nature, focused on a specific project, and scheduled to be completed within some defined time, cost, and performance standards.
The structures represented by each end of this continuum have their benefits and costs. A functional structure, for example, enables individuals to remain aware of new technical developments in their respective areas of expertise, by allowing the functional groupings to concentrate their efforts and interactions in their functional areas of interest. A cost of functional structure, however, is the difficulty created in coordinating these distinct functional disciplines, task orientations and organizational localities. The product structure eliminates or reduces the coordination difficulties by concentrating everyone’s attention on the requirements of the product, but at the same time such concentration makes it more difficult to stay current with developments in one’s functional expertise and may result in technological obsolescence. The dilemma is that when one structure is chosen, the benefits of the other structure are lost. Organization writers view matrix as a solution to this dilemma. A matrix combines the benefits of both structures by providing proper project coordination while maintaining a continuing linkage with a functional expertise (Dilworth, Ford, Ginter, & Rucks, 1985; Katz Allen, 1985; Larson & Gobeli, 1987; Meredith & Mantel, 1989; White 1979; Wright, 1979,1980).
Although Sayles (1976) developed a typology of matrix types, most current writers build upon Galbraith’s (1971) work, which proposed a continuum of matrix types that lie between the pure functional and pure product forms of organization (see Figure 2). Gobeli and Larson, (1986a, 1986b, 1987); and Larson and Gobeli (1987) further defined this continuum by developing three subclasses of matrix–functional, balanced, and project–that identify the primary source of decision authority in the matrix. Under functional matrix, the matrix manager relies on personal influence and communication skills to coordinate the different functional areas of the project; the functional manager retains ultimate decisionmaking authority over what the matrix unit does, its personnel, and other aspects of the project. Under project matrix (or what is commonly termed project management) the project manager has primary control over the resources and the project’s direction. The functional group’s managers serve largely in a supporting or advisory role. The balanced matrix splits authority midway between the two. The project manager directs and sets control for the project with some shared authority over the functional personnel. Functional management retains control over much of the team and is responsible for carrying out the plans and controls established by the project manager (Kerzner, 1984; Larson & Gobeli, 1987; Might & Fischer, 1985).
Some researchers have observed that matrix systems evolve over time (c.f., Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Galbraith, 1971; Kolodny, 1979). These writers argue that this evolutionary process typically covers five stages. In the first stage, the organization begins as a traditional or a functional type hierarchy. As that structure becomes inadequate to deal with the complex, dynamic conditions it faces, the organization moves into the next phase, “project organization” or “temporary overlay.” In this phase, the traditional functional hierarchy remains the cornerstone of the organization and, project management is added as a secondary, temporary overlay to deal with the new complexities. Some organizations make this overlay permanent, which prompts a move into the third phase labeled matrix organization or “permanent overlay.” In this phase, project management assumes a permanent form in the organization, although the functional hierarchy is still considered the primary organizational form. The next phase of evolution is labeled the “mature matrix.” In this phase, a balance of authority exists between the functional hierarchy and the project organization. The last phase, “beyond the matrix,” may entail organizational forms that are unique to the particular organizations (Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Kolodny, 1979; Peters, 1979). An organization may stop evolving at any point in this process if the appropriate precipitating factors are not present. This discussion leads to another characteristic of matrix organization. These structures are found in organizations that produce more than one product or service or that must respond to changing environmental, technological, or other changes by modifying their product or service frequently. Just as the stable salt mine company would have little use for matrix organization, the dynamic engineering services consulting firm could not survive without it.
If we can distill these various ideas, a working definition of matrix organization and project management results: cross-functional organizational overlays that create multiple lines of authority and that place people in teams to work on tasks for finite periods of time. Within this broad definition are many varieties of cross-functional organization form. One key to understanding the distinctions is the time element. Project management forms probably have the most finite time frame. A project has a deadline and definable costs and standards within that time frame. Project organizations are an extension of project management, and they come into play as an organization finds itself continually managing multiple projects. The relationship between matrix management and matrix organization is similar in that matrix management is a more temporary application than matrix organization. And the distinction between matrix and project is that project structures form around specific finite tasks, such as a construction project, whereas matrix structures tend to form around ongoing tasks, such as managing an engineering consulting firm or manufacturing a complex product (e.g., aerospace companies). Overall, then, these cross-functional organization forms have a great deal in common–an overlay on the traditional hierarchy, multiple lines of authority, and teams working on tasks for finite time periods. With this definition in hand, let us proceed to review what the literature (both academic and practioner) has uncovered regarding advantages and disadvantages of cross-functional structures.
Cross-functional Structures: Advantages/Disadvantages
The literature abounds with lists, tables, and anecdotal stories of advantages and disadvantages of cross-functional structures (c.f. Lawson, 1986; Wright, 1980). Although only a few of these lists are empirically based (c.f. Ford McLaughlin, in press(a)), over time they have become commonly accepted as definitive. What little empirical evidence exists is sparse and limited in its scope.
As stated earlier, the cross-functional structure is an overlay on the functional structure that creates temporary teams of organization members. With this overlay definition as a basis for analysis, it appears from the literature that most of the advantages are derived from creation of horizontal communication linkages, whereas most of the disadvantages spring from the creation of dual or multiple
authority and influence. Let us first explore the advantages by reviewing both the general wisdom and empirical research that exists. At the end of the section, we will summarize the advantages in a Table. We will then follow the same format for the disadvantages, concluding with a discussion of important research issues that need to be addressed, regarding advantages and disadvantages and some paradoxes that will become apparent.
Cross-functional Structure Advantages
A primary advantage of the cross-functional structure is that it solves an information processing problem (Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Galbraith, 1971). It creates lateral communications channels not available in the classical bureaucratic form of organization. At the same time, the cross-functional structure reduces the need for vertical communication by creating self-contained task teams focused on a specific, finite project. It improves communication among different departments and projects by forcing managers to maintain close contact with all organizational groups upon whose support they must rely for project success. This causes an emphasis on developing communication skills as a politically intelligent response for keeping the support of resource providers to ensure resource availability to the cross-functional group (Galbraith, 1971; Joyce, 1986; Larson & Gobeli, 1987; Randolph & Posner, 1992).
An experiment conducted by Joyce (1986)in an engineering division of an aircraft manufacturer attempted to determine the impact of a matrix on organizational communication processes. The study proposed that a matrix improves information processing by formalizing lateral communication channels and legitimizing informal communication. The amount and frequency of formal communication should increase, informal communication should decrease, and the participative and directive quality of formal communication should increase. The study supported the first two hypotheses, but instead of the predicted increase in the quality of formal communication, a decrease resulted. According to the author, this finding may have resulted from the lack of supporting culture in the study group. In general, however, implementing a matrix should increase the capability of an organization to process information (Joyce, 1986).
A related communication benefit of matrix is its ability to handle increased information loads over the more traditional functional structures. This, too, is due to the lateral layer of communications created by a matrix. The increased contact among departments allows information to “permeate” the organization, improving decision making and response time, which translates into an organization that can quickly and flexibly adapt to a dynamic situation (Davis Lawrence, 1977;
Denis, 1986b; Kolodny, 1979; Larson & Gobeli, 1987).
Improved information flow and flexibility of responses by team members in a matrix can allow resources to be quickly and easily disengaged from unproductive uses and applied to new opportunities as they are discovered (Davis Lawrence, 1977; Jerkovsky, 1983; Kolodny, 1979; Kur, 1982; Larson & Gobeli, 1987; Stuckenbruck, 1982). The organization, too, captures response flexibility as it can assign expensive specialists and equipment over a changing array of projects in the form of project teams (Denis, 1986b; White, 1979). At the same time, functional expertise is not lost as these specialists typically retain their associations with their functional areas while they are assigned to various projects (Denis, 1986b; Gobeli, 1987; Jerkovsky, 1983; Larson & Kerzner, 1984).
Related to these advantages for the organization are its advantages for individuals within the organization. In particular, several writers argue that a matrix should positively influence motivation, job satisfaction, commitment, and personal development (Denis, 1986b; Larson & Gobeli, 1987). In the matrix structure, individuals have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects with a variety of individuals from across the organization. In sharing ideas, knowledge, and perspectives, a matrix enlarges an individual’s experience and outlook, increases responsibility and involvement in decision making, and offers a greater opportunity to display capabilities and skills (Randolph & Posner, 1992). Other individual benefits include the development of interpersonal and group skills, problem-solving abilities, planning, and improved career pathing (Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Kolodny, 1979).
The only empirical support for these contentions is provided by Denis (1986b) in her investigation of the relationship between matrix and quality of working life. On the basis of the 40 responses of engineering managers in Quebec, she concludes that the characteristics of greater job challenge, team work, participation in decision making, autonomy, and opportunity to develop one’s capacities are more likely to be found in matrix than in the traditional pyramidal organization structure. The engineers surveyed reported that the matrix is more motivating and satisfying than traditional structures by allowing more creativity, fostering a direct relationship with clients, improving team work, improving decision making, and increasing communication and responsibilities.
The final advantage claimed for the matrix is technical excellence (Davis Lawrence, 1977; Galbraith, 1971). According to Knight, “Matrix structures are said to facilitate high quality and innovative solutions to complex technical problems” (Knight, 1976: 119). This is due to the composite impact of each of the previously discussed advantages. Improved information processing facilitates the sharing of technical information by those who need it and assists in the communication and consideration of critical, technical information for a project. Greater flexibility allows an organization to quickly make appropriate technical decisions and adapt to changing technical conditions (Kerzner, 1984). Efficient resource use facilitates proper resource sharing across projects. The multidisciplinary approach to a project allows the maintaining of functional discipline expertise not possible in other organizational forms. In other words, projects benefit from the use of functional economies of scale while remaining small and task oriented enough to stay technically innovative (Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Kolodny, 1980, 1981). Finally, a matrix assists in the development of knowledgeable, technically competent individuals who eventually become matrix-competent and comfortable. In combination, these advantages facilitate technical excellence (Kolodny, 1980b).
Table 1 below summarizes this list of main advantages and provides the relevant citations for each. [TABULAR DATA 1 OMITTED]
Cross-functional Structure Disadvantages
The disadvantages of cross-functional structures found in the literature are as varied and anecdota as the advantages. Indeed, Davis and Lawrence (1978) developed a classification of problems they termed pathologies. However, upon closer inspection it appears that these disadvantages also are a product of the same dual or multiple overlay of authority and influence characteristic that yields the advantages. Specifically, the multiple dimensions create an atmosphere of ambiguity and conflict as well as additional costs, both for the organization and for the individual.
In traditional structures, two classical principles of organization clearly stand out: (a) “Authority should equal responsibility” and (b) “Every subordinate should be assigned to a single boss.” A matrix violates both of these deeply ingrained principles, creating problems for both the organization and its individual members (Barker, Tjosvold, & Andrews, 1988; Dennis, 1986a; Joyce, 1986; Greiner & Schein, 1981; Katz & Allen; 1985). In a matrix, the boundaries of authority and responsibility are split or shared between functional and project managers. This characteristic creates ambiguity and conflict over areas such as resources (Larson & Gobeli, 1987), technical issues (Katz & Allen, 1985), salaries and promotions (Katz & Allen, 1985), and personnel assignments (Greiner Schein, 1981; Katz & Allen, 1985). This ambiguity results in power struggles as each side attempts to clarify and define its responsibility and accountability (Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Denis, 1986a; Posner, 1986; Larson & Gobeli, 1987).
Several studies have sought to identify the sources of organizational conflict created by a matrix (c.f., Wilemon & Thamhain, 1983; Denis, 1986a; Kerzner, 1984; Katz & Allen, 1985; Barker et al., 1988). The most common authority conflicts are those between functional and project managers over project priorities, administrative procedures, technical perfection versus performance trade-offs, personnel resources, cost estimates, scheduling, and personalities. The Barker et al. (1988) study focused on the intensity of these conflicts over the project life cycle. They found that the three most intense areas of conflict (schedules, priorities, and personnel resources) result from the split authority problem between project managers and functional departments. Thus, the way to minimize conflict would be to clarify authority and responsibility for the project.
Conflict can also exist at the individual level. The interaction of people with different work orientations (e.g., project/task vs. functional/professional) (Dill Pearson, 1984; Posner, 1986), different professional affiliations (Posner, 1986), different time horizons (e.g., long term vs. short term) (Katz & Allen, 1985), and different values (Joyce, 1986) are all potential causes of conflict. In a matrix, individuals find themselves working across various projects under different managers. This situation creates multiple reporting relationships (role conflict), conflicting and confusing expectations (role ambiguity), and excessive demands (role overload).
A study by Joyce (1986) offers the only empirical insight on these problems. He found an increase in role ambiguity was associated with the introduction of a matrix. No effect was found on role conflict, which Joyce explained by referring to the complex nature of role conflict. However, many writers believe that a matrix will create problems for individuals (Meredith & Mantel, 1989; c.f, Smith, 1978; Stuckenbruck, 1982). According to Larson and Gobeli (1987), “Matrix management works, but it sure seems difficult at times. All matrix managers must keep up their health and take stress tabs” (137).
A final issue in individual conflict can arise when functional managers experience insecurity and an erosion of autonomy (Davis & Lawrence, 1978; Wall, 1984). According to Davis and Lawrence (1978), functional managers often view a matrix organization as a loss of status, authority, and control over their traditional domain. This view can result in resistance and hostility to the matrix.
Another major disadvantage is cost. Matrix management can be costly for both organizations and the individuals in these organizations. For the organization, the existence of dual authority creates additional management overhead (Davis Lawrence, 1977; Larson & Gobeli, 1987) and additional staff, mainly administrative Kerzner, 1984). The matrix also leads to costs associated with organizational “heaviness” including excessive meetings or “groupitis,” which can lead to delayed decision making (Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Denis, 1986a; Pitts & Daniels, 1984) and increased information-processing costs (Jerkowsky, 1983). The costs of unused or underused resources, both physical and human, are also likely to increase (Meredith & Mantel, 1989), as well as the costs for extra training of project/matrix managers (DiMarco, Goodson, & Houser, 1989), and the costs associated with monitoring, controlling, and coordinating the people and project within the matrix (Jerkovsky, 1983; Kerzner, 1984; Larson & Gobeli, 1987). Although solid empirical data is rare, a matrix does appear to have more organizational costs than traditional structures.
Matrix structures also create costs for individuals. Although these costs are difficult to quantify and their effects on the organization are even more difficult to measure, writers generally believe that individuals pay a “price” for working in a matrix. Specifically, the dynamic, ambiguous nature of authority in a matrix leads to individual role ambiguity, conflict, and stress for functional and project managers as well as their subordinates (Jerkovsky, 1983; Stuckenbruck, 1982). In other words, a tradeoff exists between the greater autonomy and participation opportunities individuals find in a matrix and the accompanying stress. Individuals are expected to take more personal initiative in defining roles, negotiating conflicts, taking responsibilities, and making personal decisions, and the downside of such freedom is stress. The ambiguous, dual authority structure of a matrix can negatively influence motivation and satisfaction. If the matrix is not properly managed, these problems can surface, negatively affecting the quality of working life and resulting in lost productivity for the organization (Denis, 1986b).
One final disadvantage recently noted is the inability of the matrix structure to respond quickly enough to the rapidly changing demands of the multinational environment (Guterl, 1989). This argument is based on the idea that matrix has become too bureaucratic and top heavy to bring together efficiently the diverse elements of a multinational organization. An empirical study by Pitts & Daniels (1984) of multinational organizations found that the matrix form was not widely used in favor of various forms of unitary organization.
As with the advantages, Table 2 summarizes the list of disadvantages and provides relevant citations for each.
The Need for More Research on Advantages/Disadvantages
In reflecting on the volume of literature describing the advantages and disadvantages of cross-functional structures, it would appear that we actually know quite a bit. The reality is that the empirical evidence is scant and the conclusions of those studies that are available are based primarily on survey data and perceptual measures.
This is not an insignificant problem. As noted earlier, there is a large and growing interest in cross-functional structures by practitioners. Even as academic interest has waned over the past 15 years in what these organizational forms could actually do or not do, the use of these forms has grown substantially. Clearly, there is a need to determine empirically just exactly what are the advantages and disadvantages. Are the five advantages in Table I and the eight disadvantages in Table 2 truly the key ones, or are there others? And can it be shown that these advantages really relate to improved performance on the tasks undertaken by an organization, whereas the disadvantages relate to problems in performance? Under what conditions do the advantages really help and the disadvantages really hinder performance? Are there moderating factors that may diminish or increase either the advantages or the disadvantages? [TABULAR DATA 2 OMITTED]
One important focus of study should be to clarify which advantages are really advantages and which disadvantages are really disadvantages. In observing Tables 1 and 2, it is apparent that some rather similar factors appear on both Tables. For example, the increased information processing capacity of cross-functional
organizations is indicated as an advantage in Table 1, but it is indicated as an additional cost in Table 2. Is it both, in terms of creating increased cost and increased capacity, or does the advantage aspect outweigh the disadvantage aspect, or vice versa? And if one does outweigh the other, is it true in all conditions or are their contingency aspects to the relationship? Another example of such a paradox in the literature is the advantage that cross-functional organizations create lateral communication channels that increase communications frequency, yet they create greater ambiguity over resources and conflict between functional and project managers. A third paradox is the advantage of increased motivation and job satisfaction, yet greater conflict among individuals, which might decrease motivation and job satisfaction. Future research needs to focus directly on both the advantages and disadvantages in the same study to clarify these apparent paradoxes.
Furthermore, future research needs to further refine the advantages and disadvantages. For example, the current literature says that cross-functional organizations increase the frequency of communications in organizations by opening up lateral communication channels. Does this increase in frequency also increase the quality of communications and does it have an impact on the performance on tasks that are undertaken? The current literature also says that technical excellence is achieved more easily. Does this enhancement actually result in increased performance on tasks, and what aspects of cross-functional organizations really lead to increased technical excellence being applied? As one final example, the current literature says that cross-functional organizations violate single line of authority and authority equal to responsibility principles of organization. What impact does this really have on the organization’s ability to make decisions? What levels of role ambiguity and role conflict does this create, and are these impacts offset by the increased lateral communications channels that are created? These issues only tap the surface regarding the potentially fruitful research issues around advantages and disadvantages of cross-functional organizations, but let us proceed by exploring a model for effective cross-functional organizations that can further guide future research efforts.
A Model for Effective Cross-Functional Organizations
Implementing a matrix is a complex process, involving more than just changing the organizational structure, systems, culture, and behaviors over time (Davis Lawrence, 1977; Kolodny, 1979) According to Davis and Lawrence (1977), choosing a matrix is a serious, top level decision requiring commitment to a thorough implementation. They state, “Matrix is an exceedingly complex form that is not for everybody. To put it bluntly, if you do not really need it, leave it alone” (7-8). The advantages and disadvantages must be weighed and the process managed if the cross-functional form is to work. Therefore, it is imperative for organizations to understand what factors facilitate or influence the adoption of a matrix before they choose this complex organizational form.
The argument over which factors influence structural choice is by no means a new or a simple one. Several streams of research (technology-structure, strategy-structure, environment-structure) have tried to determine which factors are important, but a consensus has not yet been reached. The task is particularly difficult with cross-functional forms because several interrelated factors may be involved. This section will review relevant literature, guided by the model in Figure 3, which shows the relationships between the factors that may, based on existing literature, be associated with the effective use of cross-functional structures. In its simplest sense, this model posits that the optimal organizational form is that which best suits the organizational environment, the organizational characteristics, the people involved, the task to be accomplished, and the skills of the leader. Given this model, the question becomes “what does the literature tell us about the settings in which cross-functional structures are the best organizational response, and what factors contribute to successful cross-functional organizations?” Let us review each aspect of the model, starting with the environmental influences.
The environments faced by organizations consist of four elements: social/cultural, economic, physical, and technological. For an organization, the combination of these elements results in an environment that has four basic properties: complexity (number of elements), diversity (variety of elements), rate of change (stable or dynamic), and uncertainty (predictability of changes). Together, these properties help determine whether the environment can be considered simple or complex. Simple environments are characterized by a small number of similar, unchanging elements and low uncertainty. Complex environments are characterized by a large number of diverse, dynamic elements and high uncertainty (Ford, Armandi, & Heaton, 1988). When an organization’s environment is relatively simple, a traditional hierarchial form proves to be sufficient. However, as an organization’s environment grows more complex, the traditional structure, characterized by inflexibility, may become “overloaded” by having to process the quantity of information necessary to adjust to the changing environment (Randolph Dess, 1984). This failure to adapt should indicate the need to adopt a more organic organizational form, such as the matrix. In fact, many researchers (c.f., Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Kerzner, 1984; Kolodny, 1979) recognize the matrix as a response to a complex environment.
Another important environmental factor is the influence of a dominant stakeholder. The history of project management indicates that much of the initial impetus for its use was a function of the United States Defense Department’s and NASA’s requirement to include the use of project management as part of the contract acquisition process. (Marquis & Straight, 1963; Mee, 1964) It was believed that this organizational arrangement would best allow the organizations bidding on large, unique, complex, government projects to complete them successfully within the expected time and budget constraints. Because so many of these projects were pushing back the frontiers of knowledge into areas where it was difficult, if not impossible, to know with certainty the costs, technology, time to complete, and resources required (e.g., to complete a major project like a space shuttle or moon landing), this approach made considerable sense as a coordinating mechanism and a control measure.
However, the external environment is not the only factor influencing the decision to adopt a matrix. Internal environmental factors, such as technology, can also influence the decision. Technology can be viewed in many ways; to some it may be physical (machinery, tools) whereas to others it may be knowledge (information, “know-how”). Technology also exists at various levels: individual, departmental, organizational, industrial, and beyond. Due to the lack of consensus on a proper definition, the relationship between technology and structure has been difficult to measure. For this paper, a systems definition will suffice. An organization’s technology is “. . . its set of techniques (both material and mental) used to transform the system’s inputs into its outputs” (Ford, et al. 1988). Traditionally, researchers (c.f., Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Galbraith, 1971; Katz & Allen 1985; Kerzner, 1984) have viewed the functional form as most effective when technical expertise is critical to organizational success. However, technology is more than just technical expertise. It involves properties such as rate of technological change (Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Kerzner, 1984; Kolodny, 1979; Posner, 1986), interdependence of disciplines (Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Galbraith, 1971; Kerzner, 1984), and the type of expertise needed (efficiency or innovation) (Galbraith, 1971; Kerzner, 1984; Kolodny, 1979). Combinations of these properties determine the nature of technology that an organization faces. Simple technology is characterized by a slow rate of change, little interdependence of disciplines, and technical expertise in efficiency. Complex technology is characterized by a rapid rate of change, high interdependence of disciplines, and technical expertise in innovation. Traditional functional structures are most efficient when technology is relatively simple. However, as technology becomes more complex, the functional structure may be unable to provide the degree of flexibility and innovation across disciplines that matrix can provide (Alexander & Randolph, 1985; David, Pearce Randolph, 1989; Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Galbraith, 1971; Kerzner, 1984; Randolph, 1981).
One underlying concern still remains unaddressed: information processing overload, which is commonly addressed in the literature (c.f., Galbraith, 1971; Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Kolodny, 1979; Joyce, 1986) and deserves special mention. The dimensions of complexity–technology and environment-increase the amount of information the organization must process. Eventually, information-processing capacity in the vertical hierarchy becomes overloaded and the organization must respond to this problem with some type of organizational change. The matrix is one possible solution, but researchers agree it is not the only solution (Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Galbraith, 1971, 1973; Kerzner, 1984; Kolodny, 1979). They urge caution and a gradual change to more organic structures. Galbraith states that a sequence of moves until the bottlenecks disappear is the best strategy (Galbraith, 1971) Thus, the literature indicates that the real drive to a matrix may be information overload. This conclusion would also give credence to the previous contention that the advantages of a matrix spring from the enhancement of communication.
Again, it is necessary to point out that the limited amount of research on these issues makes it very difficult to conclude anything about whether or not increased environmental or technological complexity does in fact lead to a favorable setting for the use of cross-functional organizations. It is common to assert that the cross-functional form of organization is an effective way to cope with the increased information formation processing requirements that complexity creates, but it is less common to study the issue empirically. Although cross-functional forms do enhance information-processing capacity, they also increase ambiguity over responsibility, resources, and personnel assignments, thus increasing the uncertainty that must be managed. Perhaps other forms of organization are preferable for managing complexity, at least under certain conditions. Future research needs to compare and contrast various organizational forms in terms of their ability to handle complexity and uncertainty.
Another factor that influences the applicability of cross-functional structure is the nature of the organization, in particular its culture. Culture is a concept that has been borrowed from anthropology and increasingly used in the study of organizations. According to Cleland (1988), an organizational culture “is the environment of beliefs, customs, knowledge, practices, and the conventional behavior of a particular social group. Every organization, every corporation has its distinct character” (49). Organizational culture is important because it unites individuals with a purpose under a “set of principles and standards to live and work by.” It exists at all levels of the organization and is shaped by its various subcultures (Cleland, 1988) as well as by the society in which it exists (Davis & Lawrence, 1977). Certain organizational cultures are more receptive to cross-functional structures than others. Organizational cultures characterized by a rigid bureaucracy, minimal interdepartmental interaction, strong vertical reporting lines, and little tradition of change are not very receptive to cross-functional structures. In fact, unless the culture can be changed, resistance or open hostility to matrix may occur. Organizations with a tradition of “openness” and change are more suited for matrix structures. The move to a matrix is often “easier” for these organizations (Davis Lawrence, 1977).
Also associated with cross-functional success is the way in which ambiguity in authority and responsibility have been clarified by the organization. Although many researchers argue that ambiguity in a matrix is harmful and should be controlled by a clear definition of organizational roles (c.f., Katz & Allen, 1985), Goodman (1967) argued that organizations should deliberately leave roles ambiguous to preserve individual flexibility. His controversial conclusions have been criticized by many researchers as a misinterpretation of the study’s data, and other writers (Katz & Allen, 1985; Kerzner, 1984; Knight, 1976) continue to assert that a clear definition of organizational roles will improve matrix success. If roles are not clearly defined, the organization invites unnecessary and unproductive conflict due to the resulting ambiguity.
A related organizational issue is the division of authority between project and functional managers (c.f., Katz & Allen, 1985; Larson & Gobeli, 1987; Might Fisher, 1985). In a recent study by Larson & Gobeli (1987), the relative effectiveness of different project structures was measured (e.g., project matrix, balanced matrix, functional matrix). Project matrix was rated the most effective, although the other two matrix forms were used almost as frequently. These researchers attribute the apparent contradiction to the existence of the evolutionary development of the matrix forms, beginning with functional and ending up at project. A related explanation is that the most effective type, project matrix, is not politically feasible for many organizations due to the authority and organizational changes required. Consequently, functional or balanced matrix may be more acceptable in a particular situation and thus be more widely used (Larson & Gobeli, 1987).
The research evidence seems to indicate that the balanced structure is least effective and the project matrix is most effective. Although this research is in need of further refinement and replication, it does confirm the traditional organizational thinking that someone has to be in charge of the project to determine accountability and responsibility. Indeed, the work on sources of project conflict (c.f. Katz & Allen, 1985) seems to indicate that the greatest conflict occurs when there is uncertainty over who is in charge or when one manager is held responsible for a situation where the other manager has the authority to make the decision. Here again, however, there is much more to be learned. The authority issue, of course, is only one organizational characteristic and there are many other areas of investigation awaiting inquiry. The element of culture deserves a great deal of research attention. What elements of culture relate to cross-functional organization success, both in terms of ease of implementation and performance? In addition, such issues as size of organization, size of project, private versus public, or the multidimensional relationships among these issues represent a few of the largely unexplored and untouched foci for future research.
Characteristics of the Project
A third element in the model of cross-functional structures (Figure 3) is the project’s characteristics. Organizations are no longer providing a single product or a single service to a single customer or area. Markets have diversified and customer demands have become more stringent. As a result, organizational tasks have become more complex (Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Posner, 1986). Determining the nature of an organization’s tasks rests on the combination of four properties: task complexity (number of tasks), task diversity (variety of tasks), rate of task change (slow or rapid), and task size (defined by cost or time needed to complete the task) (Ford et al., 1988). Simple tasks are small in number, limited in diversity, relatively unchanging, and relatively small in cost or time. Complex tasks are large in number (Davis & Lawrence, 1977), highly diverse (Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Galbraith, 1971); rapidly changing (Galbraith, 197 1; Posner, 1986), and large in cost or time (Denis, 1986a; Kerzner, 1984). Functional structures, although well suited for simple tasks, experience difficulty integrating multiple, complex tasks. Matrix structures provide an alternative for handling the coordination of complex tasks (Galbraith, 1971; Katz & Allen, 1985; Kerzner, 1984). Clearly, the research on project characteristics needs to be more extensive than is the case, at present. Certain tasks may lend themselves to cross-functional organizations, but others do not; we need to understand which tasks are appropriate for these organizational forms.
Project Team Characteristics
The fourth variable in the model (Figure 3) is the characteristics of the project team. Of the many possible variables that could be considered under this heading, one of the few empirical works focuses on communications (Allen et al. 1980). This study of professionals in a research and development facility was designed to investigate the relationship between communication, especially intraproject communication, to project success. The study found that though there was no significant difference in the relationship of project performance and the amount of intraproject communication, it made a great deal of difference in the way that amount was distributed. More equal team member participation was related to greater project success. Thus, one characteristic of successful cross functional teams would appear to be that they are participative in nature and allow their members free and equal access to communications.
A later interpretation of the data by Katz (1982) suggests that there is a difference between research and development teams in how they organize themselves to communicate with others outside the project team. Development projects are defined and operationalized in terms of the particular strengths, interests, and experiences of the particular organization’s subculture. As a result, the need to communicate externally is relatively less than it would be for a research group that relies on access to the scientific community at large. In terms of the project team characteristics, therefore, it would seem reasonable to conclude, as Katz does, that the longer groups are together the more they tend to rely on each other and the less they seek to communicate outside the group. They become as Katz terms it “increasingly isolated from outside sources of information and influence” (84). On the basis of these data, Katz concludes that group longevity is related to project team performance in that for all types of research and development groups in the study, performance of the long-tenured project groups was significantly lower.
Another study done in a research and development setting is that of Keller (1986). In this study of 32 project groups, he found that group cohesiveness, an innovative orientation, and job satisfaction have positive relationships with project
group performance. He concludes that managers of research and development project teams should encourage group cohesiveness through minimizing physical distances between group members, using a participative leadership style and maintaining stable group membership.
Beside these few studies focusing entirely on research and development project teams, there is surprisingly little in the literature to help practicing managers design effective cross-functional teams. White (1984) suggests that project team members should represent all types of cognitive styles if they expect to be effective. The work of Pinto and Slevin (1987) includes competence of team members as one factor for project success.
The area of project team characteristics offers an important and largely undeveloped area for future research. Although there is a large literature on the structuring and development of effective groups (c.f. Randolph & Blackburn, 1989), this literature has not found its way into research focused on cross-functional teams. Clearly, the structure, composition, size, attitudes, training, and length of association are obvious examples of issues that could be fruitfully pursued. Even such elementary and easily measured factors as age, sex, and similar demographic characteristics remain as important areas for investigation.
Characteristics of the Project Leader
One heavily studied element in the cross-functional structures model is the project leader. Once the organization decides to use the cross-functional management structure, it must locate and empower a leader for the structure (Kezsbom, 1988; Morton, 1983; Petterson, 1991). The numerous studies of the project leader have essentially followed one of two major paths. The first path is to focus on the key issue of conflict caused by the authority sharing associated with project and matrix structures. As discussed earlier, the project manager is faced with major problems in conflict caused by: (a) the dual authority problem, (b) the need to balance the desire of professionals to achieve perfection with the organization’s need for cost efficiencies, and (c) the need to handle the political conflicts caused by the need to secure scarce organizational resources from functional managers who are reluctant to give them up.
This role conflict is caused by creating the position of project manager, which separates the technical expert from a traditional functional area of expertise. Over a period of time a project manager risks becoming increasingly isolated from a technical foundation. This isolation can lead to a loss of the very technical skills that initially identified this person as a logical choice for gaining the necessary credibility with top management, functional managers, and team members to allow the leader to effectively lead a project team (Barczak & Wilemon, 1989).
The focus on conflicts created by project and matrix management led Thamhain and Wilemon (1975) to identify seven areas of conflict a project manager must effectively manage and to trace the relative importance of these conflicts over the project life cycle. These seven areas of conflict are project priorities, administrative procedures, personnel resources, cost, schedules, technical opinions and tradeoffs, and personalities. Using the different conflict resolution strategies suggested by Deutsch (1973), they found that conflict intensity varied over the project life cycle and that project managers tended to use a confrontational conflict resolution style.
Posner (1986) used the same conflict resolution strategies to study the intensity of conflict and to identify which of the seven areas noted above was more important across the project life cycle. The 287 project managers participating in a series of seminars reported different rankings of the type of conflict for the various stages and different rankings than those found by Wilemon in his earlier study. The primary difference, however, was in the high ranking of cost in the Posner study compared to that reported by Wilemon. Posner (1986), in reconciling his results, believes this can be explained by the differences in the managers sampled (primarily government in Wilemon’s study versus primarily industry in Posner’s).
Because neither study reported data on whether the confrontational style was a more effective way than other conflict resolution strategies in handling this conflict, a later study by Barker et al. (1988) sought to investigate this issue. For the 135 engineers in their survey, the conflict resolution strategies of emphasizing the mutuality of goals and rewards for cooperation (cooperative strategy) and emphasizing the acceptance of the other person as effective while avoiding insults (confirming strategy) were associated with more effective engineering projects than were the strategies of confrontation or avoidance chosen by ineffective managers. Thus, on the basis of the research done so far in this area, it seems reasonable to hypothesize that project managers who handle conflict through cooperative and confirming strategies are more likely to be effective than those who use confrontation or avoidance strategies.
A second major approach in the study of effective project managers is to identify the characteristics of managers in charge of effective projects. Although some of the factors are reported as part of other large scale investigations into effective project management, there are several investigations that focus only on this issue. An early article in the Harvard Business Review by Gaddis (1959) laid out a basic approach to describing the successful project manager. He suggested that an effective project manager should have technical skills to know how the project’s goals and structure should be defined, come from a technical background to be oriented in the technology, have basic administrative skills, and have a strong interest in teaching, training, and developing his people. Similar lists have been proposed by other writers who report their observations or experiences with project management (c.f., Wright,1979). Posner (1987) asked his 287-person sample to note the problems they had in managing projects and the skills they felt project managers should have to be effective. The responses were categorized into six key skills: communication, organizational, team building, leadership, coping, and technological, but there was no information provided regarding the types of projects represented (e.g., R&D, engineering, MIS).
Another approach to identifying the characteristics of effective managers is that reported by Thamhain and Gemmill (1974), who used the French and Raven (1959) power topology to see what type of power that effective project managers relied on the most. They found that effective project managers tended to rely more on technical expertise and on creating tasks that team members found challenging. In an effort to identify development needs of project managers, Dimarco et al. (1989) gave the Yukl Situational Assessment Questionnaire (Yukl, 1989) to project and functional managers and subordinates to see which items were most associated with the perception of project effectiveness. They found that project managers indicated they rely on participative leadership strategies whereas their subordinates wanted them to be more task oriented. Because the data allow only speculation on whether or not these respondents did in fact work in effective project organizations, it is entirely conceivable within a leadership contingency framework that all of these people were happy with the leaders and needed to have a more task-oriented leadership style for performing a relatively structured task where leader position power is relatively weak due to the dual authority problem (Fiedler, 1967).
In a different approach to studying the project management leadership problem, Jerkovsky (1983) used a time allocation survey to investigate the percentage of time functional and project managers spent in six different roles (i.e., knowledge updates, technical consultant, task manager, technical administrator, employee developer, organization developer). A comparison of functional managers’ responses to project managers’ responses revealed no difference between functional and project managers.
A later study by Dill and Pearson (1984) used Mintzberg’s (1973) classification scheme of the roles that managers play and asked a small sample of project, matrix, and functional managers to indicate on a Likert scale the degree to which they performed each of the 10 roles. With relatively little variation, all three groups reported the items in the same order, with leadership ranked first and serving as figurehead ranked last. This categorization seems to be a fertile area for further research, because with the small size of this one sample it is difficult to specify which roles are in fact critical to project effectiveness.
In a study of the relationship between-project performance and the locus of influence in an R & D setting, Katz and Allen (1985) found that the best location of authority was dependent on the type of decision:
The project manager should be concerned with external relations and
activities. He should have sufficient power within the organization to
gain the backing and continued support of higher management, to obtain
critical resources, and to coordinate and couple project efforts with
marketing and manufacturing. The concern of functional managers, on
the other hand, should be inward-directed, focusing chiefly on the technology
that goes into the project. (Katz & Allen, 1985:82) The only area where these two researchers found it desirable to have a balanced influence relationship was in the area of salary and promotion.
A final managerial characteristic influencing project success is team building. It would seem obvious that high performing project teams would be critical to project performance and success. Several studies have investigated this issue (c.f., Katz, 1982; Keller, 1986; Thamhain & Wilemon, 1987; Wilemon & Thamhain, 1983). In general, these writers conclude that the multidisciplinary nature of complex projects require a manager who has the human relations skills to coordinate and integrate people and tasks in the difficult atmosphere of a matrix. Project managers should possess strong team building skills, such as empathy, motivation, and esprit de corps (Posner, 1987; Randolph & Posner, 1992). Project managers must also provide an atmosphere supportive of teamwork by creating a professionally stimulating work environment, good project leadership, qualified work team, and a technically and organizationally stable work environment (Thamhain & Wilemon, 1987).
Overall, then, there are a number of authors who have attempted to describe the charactetistics of effective project managers. These characteristics can generally be categorized under one of three areas of managerial competence. The first is a project manager’s technical skills. It is clear that the project manager must rely in many types of project settings on authority based on technical competence. The second area is the project manager’s administrative competence, which refers to the project manager’s ability to plan out the program, organize it, staff it with the right mix and number of people, motivate and lead these people, and, finally, control the project and the resources committed to the project. The final skill necessary for an effective project manager is communication and political skills (Elmes & Wilemon,1988). This skill helps to gain and retain the support of top management, clients, and resources suppliers for the project. The degree to which each of these skills are required for a project manager to be effective has not been adequately researched. Furthermore, it is likely that application of contingency leadership models would prove insightful in this quest for better understanding project manager success.
The culmination of the cross-functional structures model is project effectiveness. The literature provides a variety of discussions about factors that lead to project success (c.f McCollum & Sherman, 1991; Morris, 1988; Owens, 1988). Perhaps the most extensive is represented by the work of Slevin and Pinto (c.f Pinto & Slevin, 1987, 1988a, 1988b; Slevin & Pinto, 1986, 1987). These writers have sought to identify, measure, and investigate those factors that are critical to project management success. They began this line of research by asking part-time MBA students who had been members of a project management team within the last 2 years to write down the five things they felt they could do as project managers to substantially improve implementation success. These responses were then categorized into 10 factors by two experts. The 10 factors are: (a) project mission clarification, (b) gaining top management support, (c) detailed project planning, (d) communicating with clients, (e) recruiting and retaining necessary personnel, (f) ensuring the availability of adequate expertise and technological resources, (g) selling the project’s product to the client, (h) monitoring performance information, (i) communicating with team members, and (j) troubleshooting problems and handling crises.
From these results, they developed a Project Implementation Profile and tested it through two different forms. The early form had 10 questionnaire items for each factor and the later used 5. The second form became the basis for a mail survey of 500 Project Management Institute members in a study designed to trace the importance of these 10 factors across the four stages in the project life cycle (Conceptualizing, Planning, Execution, Termination). They found that the project mission clarification factor and the factors representing communicating with clients showed up as significant in a regression analysis using project performance as the dependent variable across all stages of the project life cycle. The only other factors to enter into the regression equation were top management support (in the planning stage), technical expertise (in the execution and termination stage) and troubleshooting and planning (in the execution stage). Thus, of the 10 factors, only 7 loaded anywhere and no more than 5 entered any one stage. Although the concept of identifying the critical tasks in implementing successful project management is an important one, there is need for more research to further develop and clarify this scale as well as to eliminate the possible redundancies in the factors themselves.
Pinto and Slevin (1987) reviewed five other conceptual approaches to identifying factors that are critical to the success of project implementation. Although there is some obvious overlap in these lists, there are some differences. Overall, the critical factors can be categorized into two general areas. The first factor is the clear definition of the project’s mission. Because all else really flows from this in terms of justification for resource acquisition, rationale for time schedules, and criteria for evaluation of project success, this factor becomes paramount in project management (Batiste & Jung, 1984; Pinto & Pinto, 1991).
The second critical factor in project management characteristics is top management support for the project and its willingness to show that support by committing resources to the project. This factor would include a general managerial and organizational culture that supports the need for projects and believes that the organization should enthusiastically support them. In addition it would include selecting and empowering competent project managers.
The key research issue here is to determine which is more important or to ascertain the relative contribution of each of the critical success factors to overall project success. Although Pinto and Slevin identify some of these relationships, the empirical results they report indicate that there may be a more parsimonious strategy to resolve the two key questions noted above. The categorization noted here is consistent with the observations of and the extensive study reported by Murphy, Baker and Fisher (1974), as well as the later work by Baker, Murphy, and Fisher (1983).
Another body of research looking into the characteristics of effective project organization is that of Larson and Gobeli (1987, 1988, 1989). They received completed questionnaires from 547 members of the Project Management Institute (64% response). They were investigating the relative effectiveness of three different types of project organizations (project matrix, functional matrix, and balanced matrix) across industry, size, and other demographic and contextual factors. hi terms of effectiveness, these two writers report that the project matrix is the most effective, although they report all three forms are used extensively. Of the contextual factors studied, only clearly defined objectives was significantly related to success (Larson & Gobeli, 1989).
Summary and Implications
From this review of the substantial body of literature, one major conclusion seems clear: there is still much to learn about the circumstances and practices that relate to success in cross-functional organizations. The model presented in this article opens the door to a number of important research hypotheses, which have been suggested throughout the paper.
Still, it is safe to say that the literature does provide some guidance to practicing managers. Pinto and Slevin (1987, 1988a, 1988b; Slevin and Pinto, 1986, 1987) created a generic, empirical framework of success factors and then stipulated 10 factors critical to project implementation success, described earlier. Their Project Implementation Profile (PIP), designed around the 10 factors provides guidance for project leaders. And subsequent studies (Pinto & Prescott, 1988, 1990) indicated that the relative impact of several of the factors appears to vary across the phases of the project life cycle.
Davis and Lawrence (1977) warn that “a successful matrix must be grown instead of installed.” An organization simply cannot plug a matrix into its existing structure and expect success. Matrix structures should be uniquely developed for a particular application in a particular organization, and this development will likely follow the evolutionary path described earlier. There is also evidence to suggest that there are contingencies based on the structural, systems, behavioral, and cultural contexts of the organization in general and the matrix structures in particular, which have positive and negative influences on the effectiveness of the cross-functional structure (Bartlett & Ghoshal, 1990; Katz, 1982; Kolodny, 1979). Managers would do well to consider these contingencies.
Finally, books such as Getting The Job Done (Randolph & Posner, 1992), Managing Projects in Organizations (Frame, 1987), Project Management (Graham, 1982), and Project/Matrix Management, Policy and Strategy (Kerzner & Cleland, 1985) provide additional applied understanding for practicing managers.
Thus, in conclusion, it is safe to say that the literature does provide some guidance for practicing project leaders. It is also clear that many questions remain for researchers to explore.
There is both an incredible need and an opportunity for theory building in this area to better direct future research. The gaps in the existing knowledge base that a review like this exposes offer scholars considerable opportunities to undertake research that is both useful and needed. Cross-functional organizations are not an insignificant or isolated phenomena. They are intensively and extensively used in organizations by managers looking for help in their effective use and structure. The model presented here offers a starting point for a number of important research hypotheses that can be tested to expand the existing knowledge base of the individual factors noted in the model. Further, the model suggests that these factors may operate interactively and that researchers should consider these interactions in future research efforts. The topic of cross-functional structures offers an incredible and important array of research opportunities. It contains a number of potential hypotheses to test, guided by a theory that is yet to be developed.
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