The purpose of this paper is to examine the matrix organisation in one municipality. It focusses on whether decisions can be based on shared understanding, as well as identifying conflicts and proposed solutions between central administration and the line divisions.
The case study is founded on empirical data from city of Turku, Finland. The data are based on two surveys and participant observation data (employees’ meetings and workshops during 2013-2015).
Conflicts were categorised based on structure, processes, resources, people, and rewards. Conflicts emerged on an individual level, such as role conflict, role ambiguity, and role overload. Administrative procedures, personnel resources, scheduling, and personality issues emerged on an organisational level. Conflicts were greater in the line organisation than in central administration, but they did not differ much. Proposed solutions were few, but jointly determined. The value of the matrix was in the creation of a coherent vision. Cross-dimensional steering groups offered fora for identifying problems and solving conflicts, but the ability to realise change was limited, mainly because of a lack of decision-making power.
Methodological limitations relate to the generalisation of the findings.
The study findings call for developing network-based communication models, as well as public management styles adjusted to matrix-type organisations.
The conflicts raised are similar in public-sector organisations and private companies. However, the proposed solutions may vary because of the limited possibilities for a municipal organisation to rectify the problems that emerged.
Pakarinen, M. and Virtanen, P. (2016), "Solving organisational conflicts in public matrix organisation", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 11 No. 4, pp. 232-252. https://doi.org/10.1108/QROM-12-2015-1340Download as .RIS
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