What are the advantages and disadvantages of long chains of command in business?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is important to have a chain of command in any business of any significant size.  Without a chain of command, you are more likely to end up with chaos.  However, as a chain of command gets longer, it can start to cause a variety of problems.  Let us examine the advantages and disadvantages of long chains of command.

The major advantage of a long chain of command is that it allows higher management to keep control over a large company.  As the size of a firm increases, it becomes much harder (and indeed impossible) for the firm’s leader to exercise personal control over everything that happens in the business.  There are simply too many things going on and the leader cannot be everywhere at once.  Therefore, a chain of command is necessary.  The chain of command allows orders that the leader issues to be heard by everyone in the company.  It also makes sure that there is someone who is responsible for carrying out those orders at each level of the firm’s hierarchy.  This prevents chaos from occurring and allows the company to run relatively smoothly even though it is very large.

The major disadvantage of a long chain of command is that the company becomes excessively bureaucratic and inflexible.  If you have a long chain of command, people at each level might feel the need to “pass the buck” on most decisions.  Instead of acting quickly on their own, they will prefer to find out what the person above them in the hierarchy wants.  This will make it very hard for the firm to adapt to changing conditions in a timely manner.

Thus, while long chains of command allow a business to grow, they also make it less flexible and less able to adapt to change.

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are advantages and disadvantages to having long chains of command in business. One advantage is that managers may be better able to maintain control over their employees. Since there are many layers in the company, it may be easier to deal with workers who are not able to do their job properly. It also is possible that managers may be responsible for fewer employees since there are many levels within the company. This could help managers supervise their employees more effectively. A second advantage is that it helps those at the top of the chain of command carry out the mission and purpose of the company since there are many managers available to assist them.

There are disadvantages to long chains of command. One disadvantage is that it may slow communication within the company. Since there are many levels within the company, it may take longer for communications to reach the proper people. Another disadvantage is that the highest level of employee is relatively inaccessible. It may be harder to reach the people who are at the top of the company’s chain of command. A third disadvantage is that people working within the company may feel that they are not trusted because there are so many levels within the company. It also might make it more difficult to make quick decisions.

There are advantages and disadvantages to long chains of command within a company.

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