line and staff
line and staffan approach to structuring ORGANIZATIONS which distinguishes between those who are in the line or CHAIN OF COMMAND and are directly involved in the achievement of the organization's primary goals (line), and those who provide advice or a supporting service to them (staff). Typically, staff functions include those such as management services and personnel. However, the distinction is often less clear cut in practice because staff functions may exercise authority on behalf of line managers or acquire informal power and authority of their own. In addition, there is usually a line of command within staff departments. See MANAGEMENT.
Collins Dictionary of Business, 3rd ed. © 2002, 2005 C Pass, B Lowes, A Pendleton, L Chadwick, D O’Reilly and M Afferson