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  • Writer's pictureMatt Garris


The following post is adapted from my personal academic coursework.


George explained how ubiquitous organizations are in the modern world. He also mentioned his experiences with groupings in a military setting, which merit further attention. Groupings exist in multiple contexts Scott and Davis noted that every grouping arrangement has trade-offs. Consider the following examples.

Marine Corps

The Marine Corps’ organizational structure contains multiple chains of leadership to which Marines are accountable. At the most basic level, each Marine is subject to an administrative control chain and an operational control chain, and these chains rarely align.

Marine Band

In Marine bands, Marines have three chains of leadership and these often have conflicting interests. The “musical” chain is responsible for accomplishing the band’s primary musical mission while the “logistical” chain is responsible for coordinating the band’s internal support activities (administration, transportation, etc.). Both exert operational control and administrative control comes from the “military” chain. Seniority is the reason for three chains.

Often, bands will divert around 15 Marines to a deploying force and keep the rest of the band behind to continue its primary musical mission. However, when the full band deploys, the military chain supersedes the others as it assumes operational control.


However, other similar situations still exist. Several years ago, 15 band Marines deployed to Iraq and attached to a Stinger missile battalion. They found themselves administratively assigned to three different platoons and operationally assigned three different ones. The result was always confusion and often chaos.

Related Considerations

Because of the persistent issues with the multiple chains, Marines developed an unofficial protocol for handling them. First, whenever they receive conflicting information, they acknowledge the latest information, but notify whoever addressed them. Often, this leads to rescinding an order given without knowing about the conflict. A secondary procedure is to always follow the “last order first.” Such simple adjustments are quite effective in navigating the multiple-chain system.


Education is another field with frustrating groupings. Because of the way schools group teaching teams, many elective teachers feel like administrators trying to include them are “trying to force a round peg into a square hole.” Elementary schools group teachers by grade level because they teach the same content. High schools group them by content area. Middle schools group teachers by grade and content in keeping with flexible organizational structures being a key component of middle school. To increase support to elective teachers, districts establish electives teams or hire district-wide electives administrators.


In addition to the above solutions, organizations would benefit from analyzing their groupings and looking rationally for opportunities to combine and re-assign groupings. Zhang and Zhou, in their research on Chinese energy efficiency, reinforced the importance “selecting an appropriate group criterion, especially for heterogenous units.” Another solution is to transfer authority from the leader to the member. Chaaban and Sawalhi stated that such agency results in “participating collaboratively within the wider work community, and responding proactively to emerging demands, dilemmas, and ambiguities.” These behaviors are beneficial not only to the individual, but also to the organization.


Christians are also accountable to two systems – they are administratively controlled by this fallen world, and operationally controlled by God. Both systems give orders, but the individual decides which to follow. Jesus stated in John 15:5 (NKJV), “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.” Merida said that Elijah “was gripped by fear because he took his eyes off the greatness of God.” Elijah bore fruit when he focused on his operational chain, but became fearful when he tried to operate under the power of his administrative chain. It is vital for believers to operate in Jesus.


Chaaban, Y. & Sawalhi, R. (2020). The role of agency in the development of a teacher leadership stance among student teachers during the practicum experience. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 25(2), 171-192.

Ellebrock, C., Main, K., Falbe, K., & Pomykal Franz, D. (2018). An examination of middle school organizational structures in the United States and Australia. Education Sciences, 8(4), 1-18.

Merida, T. (2015). Christ-centered exposition commentary: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Kings. B & H Publishing Group.

Scott, W. R. & Davis, G. F. (2016). Organizations and organizing: Rational, natural, and open system perspectives (6th ed.). Routledge.

The Holy Bible, New King James Version (1982). Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Zhang, N. & Zhou, M. (2020). The inequality of city-level energy efficiency for China. Journal of Environmental Management, 255.


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