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Emotional intelligence: A key ability to succeed in the matrix organization

Thomas Sy (California State University, Long Beach, California, USA)
Stéphane Côté (Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 1 June 2004



Organizations continue to employ the matrix organizational form as it enables companies to use human resources flexibly, produce innovative solutions to complex problems in unstable environments, increase information flow through the use of lateral communication channels, and leverage economies of scale while remaining small and task oriented. Despite its strengths, the matrix has inherent problems. Earlier studies have primarily addressed structural problems. In this paper, we identify four interpersonal challenges that impede matrix performance: misaligned goals increase competition among employees, roles and responsibilities are unclear, decision‐making is untimely and of possibly low quality, and silo‐focused employees do not cooperate. We propose that emotionally intelligent employees can function better in the matrix. We offer solutions for both managers and employees to improve performance in matrix organizations by applying the four components of emotional intelligence, specifically, managing, understanding, using, and perceiving emotion, to each interpersonal challenge.



Sy, T. and Côté, S. (2004), "Emotional intelligence: A key ability to succeed in the matrix organization", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 23 No. 5, pp. 437-455.



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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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