Matrix project organization

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A matrix project organization is a form of project organization that is designed as a matrix organization . The project employee is not only subordinate to the line manager , but also to the project manager at his level.

The average project duration increases continuously due to technological developments, the proportion of innovative tasks in relation to routine processes increases and various projects run simultaneously. In addition, synergies should be exploited through organizational integration and the available human and material resources should be used most efficiently.

The matrix project organization can be seen as a solution to this trend , in which the project manager concentrates particularly on the original target system, whereas the division-internal division of tasks and the procedural regulation are subject to the division manager.


Matrix project organization

The matrix project organization follows the principle of multiple subordination ( multi-line system ). Here, the vertical competencies of the primary organization overlap with the horizontal competencies of the project management , the secondary organization .

The employees are assigned to the project either fully or part-time, in terms of content they are subordinate to the project manager, who must be equipped with the necessary skills, but in terms of personnel and disciplinary they are still subject to the line manager. The project manager decides on the scope of services (what?), The dates (when?) And the costs (how much?) Of the project. The line manager, on the other hand, is responsible for the human resources (who?), The know-how (how?) And the quality of the service (how good?).

The problem of project-related overlapping in the vertical functions should be overcome by integrating the project tasks across the departments involved .

Requirements for a successful matrix organization

There is an organizational need to work together between the functional departments and the project managers . This constraint can lead to a more desirable and better solution. However, this is all under the assumptions that:

  • Conflicts are disclosed as soon as possible so that possible solutions can be developed in good time;
  • a factual discussion between project-specific requirements and department-related priorities leads to a coordination that represents a better solution.
  • it requires a corresponding ability to deal with conflicts between all those involved.


A significant advantage of the matrix project organization is mentioned as the fact that it is supposed to cope better with fluctuations in workload , since it is related to the basic organization, the employees do not have to be completely separated from the primary organization and the existing specialists can only be used for the respective project as required .

This advantage is only possible with a flexible number of employees during the entire course of the project. In practice, however, the fact that specialists remain in the basic organization can result in increased planning, management and overhead costs during the specialists' project breaks, so that the involvement of external external specialists is often even more flexible and therefore cheaper than recourse to existing or overburdened core staff can.


Responsibility for problems that affect the specialist department and the project at the same time is often unclear and sometimes unsatisfactory. Often the project management and specialist department perceive these problems only one-sidedly or in an unsatisfactory manner, or sometimes also try to solve their own problems and tasks at the expense of a third party, often the project employee.

A major problem, however, is double reporting, whereby the project employee is subordinate to two superiors and he could possibly play them off against each other in order to then come to an agreement with the one who offers him greater advantages (wages, incentives).

In addition, the employee can also feel frustrated if he has to meet incompatible requirements from the project and basic organization as well as from other superiors and feels overwhelmed by this. This multiple exposure is often cited as a source of burnout syndrome by those affected.

If there are different interests between the project and line organization, the lack of resources and imprecise time and effort estimates can lead to considerable conflicts that can only be partially defused by additional, complex, detailed planning of the decision-making and issuing authority and additional suitable monitoring can. The problem of the discontinuous economic use of the available resources in the event of fluctuations in workload can be partially solved with this form of project organization by flexible temporary external staff for projects.

The long-term goals of a plannable, strategically managed and superordinate corporate development can only be implemented with increased economic effort with a flat matrix organization. This is why matrix organizations are used particularly successfully in project-oriented industries such as construction, vehicle development and in profit centers without their own sustainable corporate goals.

In administration and in mass production (e.g. large bakeries), however, pure matrix organizations are rarely found.

application areas

The field of application of the matrix project organization is very broad and depends less on the task content than on personal and organizational cultural variables (e.g. understanding of leadership). The following requirements must therefore be observed:

  • so that several departments can work on a project, it should have a certain complexity and a certain degree of scope; However, this also means that a great deal of coordination is required to cope with the complexity;
  • there must be a great deal of mutual understanding and willingness to talk to resolve the conflict ;
  • the projects require different staffing needs over the course of the period;
  • often several projects are processed at the same time in the company;
  • the company is strongly market-oriented, customer and market information must be implemented quickly in the specialist departments in order to cope with the great pressure of competition .

Development tendencies

Large, recurring projects are increasingly being organized in matrix form , as the professional competence and the corresponding control of the employees can be transferred to the line managers and the spatial concentration of the project team is maintained.

For a project to be successful, however, social and cultural factors are of crucial importance.


  • Teisman-Biker: "Handbook: Practical Business Management", 4th edition, Verlag Cornelsen, Berlin 2002, ( ISBN 3-464-48987-6 );
  • Jean-Paul Thommen-Ann-Kristin Achleitner: "Allgemeine Betriebswirtschaftslehre", 4th edition, Verlag Gabler, Wiesbaden 2003, ( ISBN 3-409-43016-4 );
  • Kasper-Mayrhofer: "Personnel management, leadership, organization", 3rd edition, Verlag Linde, Vienna 2002, ( ISBN 3-7073-0430-2 );
  • Manfred Schulte-Zurhausen : "Organization", 3rd edition, Verlag Franz Vahlen GmbH, Munich 2002, ( ISBN 3-8006-2825-2 );

Related topics

Organization , project management , project organization , matrix organization ,