organization chart

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The organizational chart ( briefcase word from organization and diagram or short form of organization diagram , also organization plan , organization diagram , structure plan, position plan ) is a graphic representation of the organizational structure of an organization, which reveals its organizational units, task distribution and communication relationships. This means that the line relationships between the individual organizational units are shown in a clear form. It was first used by the railroad manager Daniel Craig McCallum (1815-1878) around 1855.


Usual forms of representation in practice are the horizontal and vertical organization chart as well as mixed forms of both. Symbols are used for visualization, for example, line positions are usually shown as boxes (with or without job holders) and supporting positions as circles (staff positions) and their connections as solid lines.

Information about the following organizational issues is contained in an organizational chart:

  • Distribution of operational tasks to positions and departments
  • hierarchical structure of the structural or management organization and the instruction relationships
  • Classification of management support agencies
  • Personnel composition ( staff , positions , departments )

Important rules of the game in an organization become visible to everyone, so its internal impact must not be underestimated, it is the map of every company. The formal creation of organizational charts is usually determined in-house. When creating an organization chart, the level of detail is important. It should be checked whether every employee of the company should be represented or whether individual employee groups are sufficient. In the case of a reorganization, for example, each position must be taken into account.

Graphic representation

There is no generally applicable regulation with regard to the graphic representation, however the following has become established in practice:

Organization chart icons

The following options are also available:

  • In a square there is only one person who holds the respective position.
  • Quadrilaterals that are connected to the bottom contain the role of the supervisor; z. B. Level 1 is set in front of level 2 etc. (longitudinal connections).
  • Cross-sectional functions are usually represented as support or functionally determining positions as a staff position next to the management in the form of a circle. In the illustration, the support is also indicated by a dashed line (cross connections).
  • The number of employees who report directly to a supervisor is referred to as the subordination quota or the management or leadership range

Example of an organization chart:

Example: organizational chart

Advantages and disadvantages

Such an organizational plan not only has advantages, it must also be viewed critically. While there are only a few hierarchical levels in small companies, there are many levels of hierarchy in large companies (with areas, departments, groups and individual positions).

advantages disadvantage
  • hierarchical structures become apparent (organizational form)
  • Regulation of responsibilities
  • supportive of critical business decisions
  • efficient exchange of information
  • simplistic
  • Problems of representation technology
  • very time-consuming and complex without suitable software
  • no DIN standards


There are a number of software products that can be used to draw organizational charts, among other things. These include Dia , KDissert and Kivio for Linux , Microsoft Visio or Microsoft PowerPoint , SmartDraw and Draw for Windows and Mac OS X and OmniGraffle for Mac OS X. Cross-platform creation and editing of organizational charts is possible with the web application orginio or the diagram editor yEd possible.

There is also dedicated organizational chart software such as B. Ingentis org.manager or OrgPlus, which can create organizational charts based on existing data (e.g. from SAP , PeopleSoft or Oracle ERP ).


Web links

Wiktionary: organization chart  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Organization Charts  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Quoted in: Alfred D. Chandler : Strategy and structure. Chapters in the History of the Industrial Enterprise. MIT Press, Cambridge MA 1962, pp. 21-22.
  2. orginio: orginio .
  3. Ingentis: Ingentis org.manager . Accessed July 27, 2015