Official way

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The official route (or authority route ) prescribes the direction of communication within a given communication structure in hierarchies . The opposite is the Fayolsche Bridge .


The notion of path is constructed from hierarchical, authoritarian -run country with his army and administrative apparatus in the hierarchical business taken over. The official channel is one of the forms, as in organizations roads for communication (internal inquiries , orders , requests , orders , complaints , service instructions , information , news , transfers desires or goals can be regulated). Every message has to go through the official channel, so that every employee can only receive instructions from his superior and superiors can receive information from their employees or from their superiors.

According to Henri Fayol, the path of service or authority is “the path which the messages emanating from or addressed to the highest authority take, in that they go through all levels of hierarchy . This route is necessary both because of the secure transmission of messages and because of the unity of order placement ”.


The following channels are available:

  • The vertical official route connects two differently located positions in the hierarchy by running over the steps in between.
  • If positions at the same level of rank come into contact with one another, the official channel runs through the first joint superior of these two positions.
  • If positions with different hierarchical levels come into contact with different organizational units , the official channel goes through the two previous types.

In the case of direct traffic routes ( cross-information ), the organizational units of the same rank come into direct contact with one another, both in vertical and horizontal traffic.

Legal issues

The official channels represent the internal hierarchy and responsibility . Strict compliance with official channels is only provided by law in civil service law, without a legal definition being offered. In the case of applications and complaints, the official channels must be followed in accordance with Section 125 (1) BBG . If the complaint is directed against the immediate superior , it can be submitted immediately to the next higher superior. According to Section 63 (2) BBG , officials must immediately raise concerns about the legality of official orders ( remonstrations ) with their immediate superior. The official justification makes it clear that this refers to the official channel. This is also provided for in Section 36 (2) BeamtStG . If a personnel measure is subject to the codetermination of the staff council and the latter does not agree, the head of the department or the staff council can submit the matter to the higher-level departments within six working days according to § 69 para. 3 BPersVG . Officials and soldiers are prohibited from “escaping into the public” outside the official channels .

As an exception, according to § 8 PKGrG, members of the intelligence services may contact the parliamentary control body directly in official matters without having to comply with official channels . In § 14 para. 2 Joint Rules of Procedure of the Federal Ministries (GGO) is provided that when complaints of an administrative action, the reply before leaving the immediate supervisor is required.

In the public sector the obligation to comply with the official channels at authorities , governed by the Terms and instructions (AGA), so service instructions. The official channel applies to all official matters, including promotions , business trips , classifications , travel expense reports , vacation requests or suggestions for improvement . The formal legality of administrative acts is ensured through official channels. Non-compliance with official channels can be punished as misconduct under disciplinary law.

In the private sector , official channels are often regulated in work instructions. The work instructions are based on the management powers of the employer of § 106 para. 1 GewO what he work content may be further specified. If the employee violates this, he faces disciplinary action for violating the employment contract .

Organizational aspects

Official channels are specified by the organizational structure . Communication takes place from above ( management , head of authority , board ) down to the employee ( English top-down ) and vice versa ( English bottom-up ) in a vertical direction. Superiors communicate with their employees, these with their superiors. Also, the reporting must be based on these official channels. A job holder is only authorized to exchange information with an employee from another department through his or her superior.

There are only three exceptions to this principle:

The direct traffic route replaces the indirect traffic route that would otherwise have to be followed for official routes.

Official channels in the military

In the German military , the official route was already an issue in 1869. At the time, Otto von Parseval understood the soldier's official channels to be the “determination of when and to whom the soldier must bring all his requests, complaints and other concerns”. A concise dictionary from 1877 defined it as “the norm according to which all reports, reports, requests and complaints are directed to the next direct superior, from whom they are passed through the superiors following one another to the ... competent commander.” Orders then follow the reverse official channel.

Appeals decides in the Bundeswehr to § 9 Abs. 1 WBO the disciplinary superior ; Complaints against departments of the Federal Armed Forces administration are decided by the next highest department. This expresses the official channel principle. The right of petition from Article 17 of the Basic Law gives soldiers the right to submit applications and requests that must be submitted through official channels (ZDv 64/1, No. 110). According to ZDv 14/3 (Section C No. 223), a complainant has a legal right to have the notice of appeal immediately and immediately handed over to him or otherwise served. For community service providers , Section 41 (1) ZDG provides that they can submit applications and complaints and have to comply with official channels. Official instructions are to be forwarded to the recipient via official channels. If, in exceptional cases, it is necessary to issue official instructions by bypassing official channels (cross-information), the intermediaries must be informed immediately.

economic aspects

Long command lines result in slow completion of tasks , which leads to the clumsiness of the administration of authorities or companies ( bureaucracy ). Many people deal with the same message without all of them being useful and necessary for their tasks. If they are complied with, the authorities involved often receive the information they need for their work too late. Some information deteriorates the quality of its information on long service routes or is completely lost due to loss of information (problem of silent mail ). This can lead to wrong decisions .

The functional organization can only function without difficulties if a clear delimitation of competencies between the managers and a coordination of their activities is guaranteed.

The advantage of official channels is the transparency of the procedure and the clear assignment of competencies to the levels included in the official channel. In practice, however, the automatically associated restriction of competencies of those acting at a certain level has a disadvantageous effect, who can withdraw their decisions based on the competency framework set for them without having to take into account any associated overriding consequences, since they are “not responsible for this” " are. Likewise disadvantageous are the multiple levels of service channels for quick decision-making and the general speed of task completion. Informal channels therefore play a role that should not be underestimated in projects under time pressure, especially in public administration and in the military, with official channels only being used after the end of the informal agreements to maintain the formal legality of administrative action.


The so-called "short official channel" or "small official channel" describes colloquially a direct, informal communication with simultaneous violation of the specified information channels in the sense of cross information. It is therefore not a matter of official channels, but a euphemistic designation for a possibly contrary to duty.

Literature / web links

Individual evidence

  1. Reinhard Höhn / Gisela Böhme, Management Brevier der Wirtschaft , 1974, p. 35
  2. Reinhold Sellien / Helmut Sellien (eds.), Gablers Wirtschafts-Lexikon , 1980, Sp. 2115 f.
  3. ^ Henri Fayol, General and Industrial Administration , 1929, pp. 28 ff.
  4. Dieter Holzinger, The organizational connection paths and problems of their general and mutual dependencies in commercial enterprises , 1962, p. 77 f.
  5. ^ Jörg Bogumil / Werner Jann, Administration and Administrative Science in Germany. Introduction to Administrative Science, 2nd edition, Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften / Wiesbaden, 2009, p. 141.
  6. BT-Drs. 16/7076 of November 12, 2007, draft of a law for the reorganization and modernization of the Federal Service Law (Service Law Reform Act - DNeuG) , p. 116
  7. BVerwGE 86, 188
  8. Erhard Gehlmann / Frank Nieslony, Briefs im Jugendamt , 2017, p. 46 f.
  9. Erhard Gehlmann / Frank Nieslony, Briefs im Jugendamt , 2017, p. 48
  10. Erhard Gehlmann / Frank Nieslony, Briefs im Jugendamt , 2017, p. 47
  11. Reinhard Höhn / Gisela Böhme, Management Brevier der Wirtschaft , 1974, p. 35
  12. ^ Klaus Altfelder / Hans G. Bartels / Joachim-Hans Horn / Heinrich-Thomas Metze, Lexikon der Unternehmensführung , 1973, p. 50
  13. Reinhard Höhn / Gisela Böhme, Management Brevier der Wirtschaft , 1974, p. 36
  14. Otto von Parseval, Guide for the instruction of the infantryman and hunter of the Royal Bavarian Army , 1873, p. 23 f.
  15. Bernhard von Poten (Ed.), Concise Dictionary of All Military Sciences , Volume 2, 1877, p. 411
  16. Reinhold Sellien / Helmut Sellien (eds.), Gablers Wirtschafts-Lexikon , 1980, Sp. 2116
  17. Reinhold Sellien / Helmut Sellien (eds.), Gablers Wirtschafts-Lexikon , 1980, Sp. 1584