The Scalar Chain Principle of Management

The Scalar Chain Principle means a straight line of power from the top managers to the people on the ground. This concept says that information should only be sent in a strict hierarchy, either from the top to the bottom or the bottom to the top.

What is Scalar Chain Principle?

The scalar chain principle, sometimes known as the scalar chain, is a management principle that focuses on establishing an unbroken line of authority from the top levels of management down. In this paradigm, individuals at each management level communicate solely with those immediately above and below them. The system can be bypassed in crises and for operational efficiency by allowing two people at the same level to interact directly with each other rather than passing through the upper levels that connect them, as long as their supervisors are informed. This exception is known as a gangplank.

Henri Fayol, a French mining engineer from the 1800s, defined the scalar concept as one of fourteen management principles. In a scalar chain, the manager at the top has the most decision-making authority, and responsibility for decisions lessens as one progresses down the chain. This management philosophy is used by highly centralised organisations to keep decision-making power in the hands of senior officers. Management theorists believe that establishing a strong chain of command with as few levels of authority as feasible promotes better decision-making and well-defined superior-subordinate interactions.

Positive of the scalar chain principle of management principle:

  • A clear line of authority simplifies communication.
  • The organization’s communication system is systematic.
  • The senior management can communicate information to all staff simultaneously.
  • Contributes to the effective achievement of organisational goals.
  • Supports quicker performance.
  • Since the introduction of Gang Plank, this idea appears to be versatile and adaptable.

Negative of scalar chain principle of management principle:

  • Most employees dislike having to obey strict rules.
  • Though Fayol has implemented Gang Plank, what happens when different levels of staff are in an emergency situation?
  • Because it works in a chain, if one employee fails to communicate, the information will not reach the intended person/employee.

Example of the Scalar Principle

For example, imagine an organisation has five employees. If Employee A wishes to connect with Employee E, he must follow the scalar chain, with information flowing from A,B,C,D, and eventually to E. Employee E will face the same situation; if he wishes, he can go via E,D,C,B to employee A.

Following every path strictly costs time and causes a delay in message transmission, therefore it may not appear effective in an emergency situation. To address this, Fayol had previously suggested that the scalar chain principle should be strictly followed, except for emergency.


What is the Scalar Chain Principle?
The Scalar Chain Principle, often known as the scalar principle, is a management concept that emphasises maintaining a clear line of authority from top management down. Communication flows vertically between each level of management.

Who introduced the Scalar Chain Principle?
Henri Fayol, a French mining engineer from the 1800s, identified the scalar notion as one of fourteen management principles.

How does the Scalar Chain Work?
A: In a scalar chain, decision-making authority is highest at the top and lessens as one progresses through the management levels. Communication is often conducted between immediate superiors and subordinates, with a clear chain of command.

What is a Gang Plank in the Scalar Chain?
A Gang Plank is an exception to the scalar chain since it allows individuals at the same level of management to contact directly, bypassing the top levels for more efficient communication in emergency or operational situations.

What are the advantages of the Scalar Chain Principle?
Facilitates communication by establishing a clear chain of authority.
Creates an organised communication system.
Promotes effective achievement of organisational goals and faster performance.

What are the disadvantages of the Scalar Chain Principle?

Employees may detest stringent adherence to the chain.
Challenges arise in emergency scenarios where multiple levels require immediate communication.
Failure to communicate by one individual may result in a breakdown, impeding the flow of information.

Give one example of the Scalar Chain Principle?
Consider an organisation with Five employees. Employee A must communicate with Employee E via the scalar chain, which runs through B, C, D, and finally E. Fayol proposed exceptions for emergencies, allowing for more direct contact in critical situations.

Also Read: Levels of management