How Many Types of Organizational Management Are There?

What are the different types of organizational management?

And which types of management are more effective?

Below, we’ll explore the answers to these questions and more, starting with…

The Types of Organizational Management, By Style

One way to categorize organizational management is by their style.

That is, by an organization’s management structure.

Here are a few examples:

Top-Down Organizational Management Structures

A top-down, hierarchical management style is the most common.

This style of organizational management is certainly familiar to anyone who has worked in a traditional for-profit business.

It includes:

  • Organizational leadership. These include the C-suite – that is, the chief executives and officers, such as CEOs, CIOs, and CMOs.
  • Senior managers. Senior managers operate under the executive leaders. These include presidents, vice presidents, department heads, and so forth, depending on the organizational structure.
  • Middle managers. Middle managers run individual teams and departments. They oversee frontline workers and report to more senior managers.
  • Frontline employees. Finally, frontline employees are those who work in offices, perform back-office duties, interface with customers, and so forth.

The vast majority of most organizations, profit, non-profit, or governmental, are based on such top-down hierarchies.

Flat Organizational Management Structures

“Flat” organizational structures are less common. 

But some professionals tout the benefits of flatter management styles, claiming that they are more efficient and effective.

Flat organizations have few to no middle managers between the frontline employees and executives.

Some professionals even distinguish between different types of flat organizations.

Autocratic vs. Democratic 

These two management styles are exactly like they sound:

  • Autocratic management styles are, for all intents and purposes, dictatorial. In autocratic management, the business leaders make all of the decisions, with little to no input from those below them.
  • Democratic management styles involve more participation from employees. Though managers are still responsible for making the final decision, worker input is given more weight. Worker voices are more likely to influence decisions in this management approach.
  • Laissez-faire styles allow employees to make most decisions with little to no input from managers. This approach, described originally by Kurt Lewin, says that all the power is given to the followers. It is a useful approach when workers are highly skilled, intelligent, trustworthy, and experienced.

In their extreme versions, these two styles are virtually opposite – one permits participation from employees, while another forbids it.

Other Types of Organizational Management

There are certainly other categories of management, such as:

  • Self-managed teams, like laissez-faire management styles, allow employee teams to operate and make decisions independently
  • Co-ops, a type of business structure, could be considered a type of laissez-faire, flat, or democratic management style, depending on the specific business 

This list of management styles is not comprehensive, but it covers a large portion of the management styles in use today.

However, when discussing types of organizational management, there is another perspective – management by business area.

Organizational Management by Business Function

Another way to categorize the types of organizational management is by their business area.

That is, which area the managers govern.

For instance, each of the following business areas must be managed:

  • IT
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Human Resources
  • Finance
  • Operations
  • Supply Chain and Logistics

Each department will have its own set of unique duties and tasks. 

However, because managers are still managers, their fundamental responsibility will still be management.

Naturally, in each of these cases, the management style used will depend on the general management style of the organization.

Is There a “Best” Style of Organizational Management?

Not necessarily.

Each style has its own pros and cons. 

The “best” style for your organization depends on a few things:

  • Your organization’s mission. What industry is your organization in? What is its aim, mission, and philosophy? The underlying beliefs and values of a company will contribute directly to its management style.
  • What management style will help your organization best achieve its goals. Business leaders will often need to choose a management style that helps employees stay productive and helps the organization meet its goals. Whichever style helps them achieve their organizational management goals will likely be the one that they choose.
  • The company’s strategy. A corporation’s strategy will also be affected by its management style. An autocratic company whose strategy is the product of a single individual (think Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk) will be more likely to be autocratic. And its strategy will be a reflection of those company leaders.
  • Your corporate culture. An organization’s culture includes the company’s assumptions, value system, perspectives, and all of this will contribute to its management style.

Although it is possible to change an organization’s management style, this would certainly be a complex organizational change project.

Should You Change an Organizational Management Style?

If the circumstances warrant it, then such an initiative may prove profitable.

For instance, you may consider changing the management style if:

  • It hinders current business processes or profitability
  • Business leaders are seeking a change in the corporate culture
  • A new management style would improve existing business processes

Or otherwise benefit the current state of affairs.

Organizational change initiatives can be complex, difficult projects.

But with the right change management, execution, and leadership, the results can be well worth the effort.

In today’s fast-paced digital economy, a change in management style could offer significant benefits to forward-thinking, innovative companies.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.