How to get the Matrix Organization to Work

Richard M. Burton, Børge Obel, Dorthe Døjbak Håkonsson


Many organizations, both public and private, are changing their structure to a complex matrix in order to meet the growing complexity in the world in which they operate. Often, those organizations struggle to obtain the benefits of a matrix organization. In this article, we discuss how to get a matrix to work, taking a multi-contingency perspective. We translate the matrix concept for designers and managers who are considering a matrix organization and argue that three factors are critical for its success: (1) Strong purpose: Only choose the matrix structure if there are strong reasons for doing so, (2) Alignment among contingencies: A matrix can only be successful if key contingencies are aligned with the matrix’s purpose, and (3) Management of junctions: The success of a matrix depends on how well activities at the junctions of the matrix are managed.


Matrix organization; matrix structure; contingency theory; organization design; junctions

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