Scalar Chain in Management: Principle & Overview

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  • 0:01 Fayol's 14 Principles…
  • 1:13 Scalar Chain
  • 2:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Ashley D. Manker
Expert Contributor
Steven Scalia

Steven completed a Graduate Degree is Chartered Accountancy at Concordia University. He has performed as Teacher's Assistant and Assistant Lecturer in University.

In this lesson, we will review Henri Fayol's 14 Management Principles. We will also go into more detail about one of these principles - the Scalar Chain - and when you should use the Gang Plank in the workplace.

Fayol's 14 Principles of Management

Henri Fayol (1841-1925) worked for many years as a manager of a mining company in France. He developed his own ideas about managing while serving as the chief executive officer (CEO). He believed that all supervisors of a company, from line supervisors to the president, should receive managerial training.

Fayol developed a list of principles of management to help him become a better manager. He believed that there were more than 14 of them, but chose to focus on those he found to be the most useful in his own career. The 14 principles that Fayol concentrated on were:

  • Division of work
  • Authority & responsibility
  • Discipline
  • Principle of one boss
  • Unity of direction
  • Subordination of individual interests to the general interest
  • Fair remuneration
  • Centralization & de-centralization
  • Scalar chain
  • Order
  • Equity
  • Stability of tenure of personnel
  • Initiative
  • Esprit de corps (building harmony and unity)

Scalar Chain

Fayol believed in constant communication between supervisors and employees. Fayol defines the scalar chain as the chain of supervisors ranging from the ultimate authority to the lowest rank. An employee should feel free to contact his supervisor about anything through the scalar chain. Every order, message, request, instruction or explanation has to pass through the scalar chain. This path shows a company's line of authority and the links through which communications are transmitted from the top to the bottom of a company and back.

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Additional Activities

Scalar Chain in Management - a Business Case:

The following business case is designed to allow you to apply your knowledge of the Scalar Chain theory in a real-life context.

You are a consultant specializing in organizational structure and are approached by a new potential client, Amazing Rides Inc. Amazing Rides makes high-end bicycles and skateboards that are targeted to highly skilled outdoor sports enthusiasts. Amazing Rides has two divisions: Its bicycle division and its skateboard division. Both divisions report to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jim Montgomery.

Jim called you because he is overwhelmed with the growth of the business. "In the past year, our production output has tripled, which is great. However, this brings so much chaos in the organization. I feel like I need some structure." He then explains to you his two core problems.

  • Although Amazing Rides clearly has some employees that are more experienced and knowledgeable than others, the company never established any levels of management because the CEO "didn't want to create friction by only promotion certain employees." The result is that employees don't really take orders from anyone other than myself, and we now have too many employees to afford for this to continue.
  • There is a major communication issue when the Bicycle division needs to contact the Skateboard division. This happens when, for instance, the bicycle company is out of stock on parts that the skateboard division also uses and needs to borrow some parts to keep production going. "Right now, if an employee needs parts, he will just come and tell me. I then need to find an employee in the other division to relay the information. It's really tiresome since I get overwhelmed by all these inter-divisional requests."


Using your knowledge learned in the lesson, respond to the following:

  1. How can Amazing Rides structure its business hierarchy so that the CEO feels less overwhelmed and authority is more clearly identified?
  2. How can Amazing Rides establish better communication between divisions temporarily?


  1. While there are a variety of potential solutions, in order to be acceptable, students must refer to implementing the Scalar Chain (i.e. creating a management structure with some hierarchy? for each specific division).
  2. Students should identify the requirement of establishing a gang plank as part of their response.

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