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Matrix organizations and cross-functional teams in the public sector: a systematic review

Mikko Pakarinen (City of Turku, Turku, Finland)
Petri Juhani Virtanen (Department of Administrative Sciences, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 10 April 2017




The purpose of this paper is to review the empirical research on matrix organizations and cross-functional teams (CFTs) in the public sector, focussing on typical application areas and settings and on motivation for deployment and evidence of utility.


This is a systematic literature review compiled from several electronic databases. Data cover the period from 1990 to 2015 and are confined to academic articles written in English.


Applications of the matrix approach in public sector organizations are found in human resource management and performance management, service development and public procurement, and creation of new organizations or organization reform and network organizations. While the proven utility of matrix organization is often unclear, especially CFTs are linked to better organizational performance, improved coordination, internal collaboration and development of cross-boundary tasks.

Research limitations/implications

Methodological limitations relate to excluded data due to non-accessible articles.

Practical implications

The findings have practical implications for public sector organizations in adapting to a changing environment.


This is the first systematic literature review of matrix management in public sector organizations.



Pakarinen, M. and Virtanen, P.J. (2017), "Matrix organizations and cross-functional teams in the public sector: a systematic review", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 210-226.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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