8 Organizational Structure Types (With Examples)

Organizational structure template

Let’s go over the eight commonly used organizational structure types, providing examples and highlighting the considerations for effective management.

The organizational structure of a company plays a pivotal role in determining how tasks are organized, roles are defined, and communication flows within an organization. 

It serves as the backbone that shapes the culture, efficiency, and overall functioning of a business. Various factors, including company size, industry, and goals, influence the choice of organizational structure.

Types of Organizational Structure

1. Functional Structure

The functional structure is one of the most traditional and widely used organizational structures. In this type, employees are grouped based on their functions or areas of expertise, such as finance, sales, marketing, operations, and human resources. 

Functional Structure

Each department operates independently, with a clear reporting line to a functional manager. This structure facilitates specialization, enhances expertise, and promotes efficiency within each department. Examples of organizations employing a functional structure include banks, government agencies, and manufacturing companies.

2. Divisional Structure

A divisional structure organizes the company based on products, services, geographic locations, or customer segments. Each division operates as a self-contained unit with its own functional departments, including marketing, finance, and operations. 

divisional structure

This structure allows divisions to have more autonomy and tailor their strategies to specific markets or customer needs. Large multinational corporations with diverse product lines, such as Procter & Gamble and General Electric, often adopt a divisional structure.

3. Matrix Structure

The matrix structure combines elements of both functional and divisional structures. It creates dual reporting lines, where employees report to both functional managers and project or product managers. This structure promotes cross-functional collaboration, efficient resource allocation, and flexibility in responding to changing market demands. 

Matrix Structure

Matrix structures are commonly found in industries with complex projects, such as engineering, aerospace, and software development companies.

4. Team-based Structure

The team-based structure emphasizes collaboration and self-managed teams. Rather than relying on formal hierarchies, decision-making is decentralized and distributed among teams. Each team operates independently, taking responsibility for their tasks and performance. 

Team-based Structure

This structure fosters innovation, creativity, and a sense of ownership among team members. Startups, advertising agencies, and creative industries often adopt a team-based structure to promote a collaborative and agile working environment.

5. Network Structure

The network structure focuses on strategic partnerships, alliances, and outsourcing to fulfill organizational functions. It leverages external resources and expertise to augment the capabilities of the organization. The core company maintains a lean structure while coordinating and managing relationships with external entities. 

Network Structure

This structure allows companies to adapt quickly to market changes, access specialized skills, and reduce operational costs. Examples of network structures can be seen in the technology industry, where companies collaborate with external developers or designers.

6. Holacracy Structure

Holacracy is a relatively new organizational structure that emphasizes self-management and distributed authority. It replaces traditional hierarchical roles with flexible, autonomous circles or teams. 

Employees are empowered to make decisions within their circles, resulting in increased accountability and adaptability. Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer, is well-known for adopting a holacracy structure to foster innovation and employee engagement.

7. Flat Structure

A flat structure minimizes hierarchical levels and emphasizes a more egalitarian and collaborative working environment. In a flat structure, there are fewer layers of management, promoting direct communication, quick decision-making, and a sense of empowerment among employees. 

Flat Structure

Small businesses, startups, and creative agencies often adopt a flat structure to foster a culture of collaboration and open communication.

8. Virtual Structure

The virtual structure is characterized by a geographically dispersed workforce, often enabled by advanced communication technologies. Employees work remotely or in satellite offices, collaborating virtually to accomplish organizational goals. This structure allows companies to tap into a global talent pool, reduce overhead costs, and provide flexibility to employees. 

Virtual Structure

Examples of organizations with virtual structures include remote-first companies, online service providers, and tech startups that operate across different time zones.

Considerations for Effective Management

While selecting an organizational structure, it is crucial to consider the following factors:

Company Size and Growth Stage - The size and growth stage of the company impact the suitability of different organizational structures. Small companies may benefit from a flat or team-based structure, fostering flexibility and open communication. As companies grow, divisional or matrix structures may be more appropriate to handle increased complexity and specialization.

Company Culture and Values - The organizational structure should align with the company's culture and values. For instance, a company emphasizing innovation and collaboration may opt for a team-based or network structure, while a more traditional and hierarchical culture may favor a functional structure.

Industry and Market Dynamics - The nature of the industry and market dynamics influence the choice of organizational structure. Industries characterized by rapid technological advancements and evolving customer demands may benefit from matrix or network structures to foster agility and adaptability.

Communication and Decision-making Processes - The organizational structure should facilitate efficient communication and decision-making processes. Structures that promote cross-functional collaboration, such as matrix or team-based structures, can enhance communication flow and speed up decision-making.

Leadership Style and Management Approach - The leadership style and management approach should be considered when selecting an organizational structure. Some structures, such as holacracy or flat structures, require a more participatory and democratic leadership style, while others may be more conducive to a top-down leadership approach.


The chose for the right organizational structure is a critical decision for any organization. Each structure has its own advantages and considerations, depending on the company's size, industry, culture, and goals.

Organizational structure

By understanding the differences between these eight organizational structure types and considering the factors that influence their effectiveness, companies can design a structure that fosters collaboration, efficiency, and adaptability, ultimately leading to organizational success in today's dynamic business environment.

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