Since its inception more than three decades ago, there has been a prolific adoption of
the matrix organisational design across diverse industries. Despite the ubiquity of
matrix organisations, there remains several challenges primarily related to
interpersonal relationships; most notably ambiguity of authority as a result of the dual
command structure. This study examines the perceptions of the types of power and
influence mechanisms used by the direct functional manager and the indirect project
manager to influence project personnel. The effect of the types of influence
mechanisms used on attitudinal outcomes is also examined with a view to understand
the impact on project personnel performance.
The research was conducted using a two phase design. The first phase was qualitative
with various stakeholders required to validate the constructs of power and influence
identified in the literature and identify new constructs. The results from phase one and
the literature review findings were used to develop a self-administered questionnaire
for phase two. Quantitative data was obtained from 23 functional managers, 28 project
managers and 101 project personnel in South Africa, Italy and Canada from one large
project execution and technology company.
There appears to be a large perceptual gap between managers and project personnel.
Two themes that emerge are the perceived use of inspirational and personal influence
mechanisms by managers in comparison with the perceived use of coercive punitive
mechanisms by project personnel. Relationships were observed between the
perceptions of the type of influence mechanisms used on project personnel and their
satisfaction with manager, performance and the amount of effort expended.
Relationships were also observed between satisfaction with each type of manager and
performance & employee engagement. Finally the results indicate a strong relationship
between the functional manager and overall job satisfaction, highlighting the role of the
direct line management relationship.