What kind of structure, control and culture would you find in a chain store?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A chain store is likely to have a fairly "tall" organizational structure, departmental or geographical specialization, fairly tight control with not much in the way of the delegation of authority, and a more formal culture than other types of businesses. 

Given that there are many stores in the chain, there needs to be a taller structure that will support a great many tasks or regions.  For example, there would need to be a department in charge of distribution, a department in charge of marketing, a department in charge of finance, and so on.  Because these are complex areas, each department is likely to have a few levels and a chain of command within them.  Alternatively, for a national company, perhaps, there could be geographical departments for specific regions, each with its own departments such as distribution and marketing because regional tastes and logistics may vary. 

The tight control is necessary because it is more efficient to support many chain stores all in the same way.  Also, too much local, site-based autonomy leads to variations that the company and sometimes the customers find undesirable.  The company wants all of its stores to have the same "look" and products, for example, not wanting signage to be red in one place and blue in another.  The company wants anyone anywhere to be able to identify the store as one of the chain.  Consumers often depend on the sameness of chain stores. No matter where they go, they can recognize the store, know what to expect, and often find what they want in exactly the same layout.  You need tighter control at the top to achieve this. 

Because so little authority does get delegated, a more formal culture will usually prevail.  The tighter the reins of the corporate office, the more formal the work culture is.  Communication is top-down, with few opportunities for bottom-up messages, which also discourages an informal culture.  This is not to say that things can't appear to be informal at the local level, but generally, in terms of the workforce, such formality is discouraged. 

So, the corporation that is in the chain store business is going to usually have a tall organizational chart, little delegation of authority, and likely a more formal kind of culture.