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  • Writer's pictureMaciej Workiewicz

Matrix management in bad economy

According to late Jay Galbraith, making a matrix organization work requires a difficult task of balancing the power of different dimensions of an organization (e.g., functional, product, geography, customer type). Some have referred to this type of a structure as conflict-by-design. The centrifugal forces of organizational siloses are always threatening to fracture the matrix.

This is especially pronounced when a company experiences rought times and its management is fighting for survival, like during the biggest economic recession since 1929. Matrix structure is a convenient scapegoat in the times of crisis. The collapse of the matrix structure during an economic downturn can be prevented by planning and preparation. Once the matrix structure collepses, though, there is very little one can do to resurrect it. Davis and Lawrence in their 1977 classical book titled "Matrix" wrote that "This [risk of the matrix collapsing during economic downturn] is one pathology that requires preventive treatment. We don't know of any cure."

While far from a scientific proof, the Google Trends seems to point towards a waning interest in the matrix type of an organization. Below is a graph for the interest over time for "matrix " within the Business and Industry category.

But on the other hand, "management" doesn't look good either.

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