Management : Chain of Command

In the military the term CCC (or “C3”) is sometimes used to include “communications” as the “third C”: Command, Control and Communications .



The order in which authority and power in an organization is wielded and delegated from top management to every employee at every level of the organization. Instructions flow downward along the chain of command and accountability flows upward.

Military forces are an example of straight chain of command that extends in unbroken line from the top brass to ranks. Also called line of command.
In the military the term CCC (or “C3”) is sometimes used to include “communications” as the “third C”: Command, Control and Communications .

Regardless of the degree of control or results achieved, and regardless of how the hierarchy is justified and rationalized, certain aspects of a command hierarchy tend to be similar:
rank – especially military rank – “who outranks whom” in the power structure
strict accountability – those who issue orders are responsible for the consequences, not those who carry them out.
strict feedback rules – complaints go up the hierarchy to those with power to deal with them, not down to those who do not have that power
detailed rules for decision making – what criteria apply and when
standardized language and terminology
some ethics and key beliefs in common, usually enforced as early as recruiting and screening of recruits

Modern management science has focused on reducing reliance on command hierarchy especially for information flow, since the cost of communications is now low, and the cost of management mistakes is higher – especially under globalization – than at any point in the past. It is also easier to replace managers, so they have a personal interest in more distributed responsibility and perhaps more consensus decision making.


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