Staff function

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A staff function is a secondary business activity that supports the line functions of a business to achieve the objectives. In business management, staff functions are usually defined as all functions that are not line functions. (See explanation of staff and line.) The nature of this function is advisory. The people belonging to this function investigate, research, and give advice to their line managers.


The business world is changing very rapidly and each day new kind of issues and problems are cropping up and it requires specialisation in these fields to deal with these ever-changing conditions. As it is impossible for an individual to have specialization in each of these fields, there is a requirement of specialised people who can provide quick solutions and hence "staff function" proves beneficial. It provides the line function with advisory support. Thus helping a business organisation to work more efficiently and effectively.


  1. Blame game between line and staff: The staff only proposes a plan; the function to implement that plan is of the line. If a plan fails the staff blames the line, and the line blames the staff.
  2. Hostile environment can prevail: Some line managers don't like to get suggestions from staff members; sometimes, however, they are pressured into accepting staff plans. This creates friction between the two functions. Sometimes this pressure is due to the goodwill[clarification needed] of staff as they hold expertise in their field, that lands line into dire straits (there are, of course, always)[clarification needed].

A business can usually survive the failure of, or use substitutes for the staff function. Staff functions vary between businesses, but usually include activities like advertising, human resources, and plant maintenance.