Co-ordination: Characteristics, Essentials, Types, Techniques, Principles, Obstacles, Need for Coordination.

  • Post last modified:20 May 2023
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What is Co-ordination?

Co-ordination is the management of interdependence in work situations; it is the orderly synchronization or fitting together of the inter-dependent efforts of individuals, in order to attain a common goal.

The concept of Co-ordination is viewed as one of the important functions of management. With specialized jobs, it does not enable an organization to attain the desired result. With units, Co-ordination becomes necessary.


Characteristics of Co-ordination

There are some Characteristics of Co-ordination are:

Co-ordination Integrates Group Effort

The need for Co-ordination is felt when group effort is needed for the accomplishment of an objective. In short, it can be said that Co-ordination is related to group effort and not individual effort. The question of Co-ordination does not arise, if the job is done by one person only.

Co-ordination Ensures Unity of Action

The nature of Co-ordination is of creating unity in action. It means 151 during coordinating process an effort is made to create unity among the various activities of an organization. For example, the purchase and sales departments have to coordinate their efforts so that supply of goods takes place according to purchase orders.

Co-ordination is a Continuous Process

It is not a job which can be performed once and for all, but its need is felt at every step. Many activities are performed in a business. Sometimes or the other, if any one of the activities goes on fluctuating either for more or less than required, the whole organizational balance is disrupted. Thus, a close watch has to be kept on all the activities to maintain the balance.

Co-ordination is an All-pervasive Function

Pervasiveness refers to that truth which is applicable to all spheres (business and non-business organizations) and places uniformly. The nature of Co-ordination is pervasive. Like making of timetable in an educational institution is an apt example of establishing Co-ordination.

In the game of cricket, the placement of players at per-determined positions is nothing but Co-ordination. In the same manner, to synchronize the activities of different departments, like purchase, sales, production, finance, etc. in a business organization is Co-ordination.

Co-ordination is the Responsibility of All Managers

Co-ordination is needed at all the three, i.e., top, middle and lower managerial levels. Different activities performed at all the levels are equally important. Thus it is the responsibility of all the managers that they make efforts to establish Co-ordination. That is why, it could not be said that Co-ordination is of more importance to any one particular managerial level or a manager.

Co-ordination is a Deliberate Function

Co-ordination is never established by itself but it is a deliberate effort. Only cooperation does not suffice but Co-ordination is also needed. For example, a teacher aspires to teach effectively (this is cooperation) but the timetable is not prepared in the school (this is lack of Co-ordination).

In this situation, classes cannot be arranged for. Here, the effort made by the teacher is meaningless, in the absence of Co-ordination. On the other hand, in the absence of cooperation and Co-ordination it dissatisfies the employees. Thus, both are required at a given point of time.

Essentials of Co-ordination

Co-ordination is the unification, integration, synchronization of the efforts of group members so as to provide unity of action in the pursuit of common goals. It is a hidden force, which binds all the other functions of management.

Management seeks to achieve Co-ordination through its basic functions of planning organizing, staffing, directing and controlling. That is why Co-ordination is not a separate function of management because achieving of harmony between individuals efforts towards achievement of group goals is a key to success of management.

Co-ordination is the essence of management and is implicit and inherent in all functions of management. A manager can be compared to an orchestra conductor since both of them have to create rhythm and unity in the activities of group members. Co-ordination is an integral element or ingredient of all the managerial functions as discussed below:

Co-ordination through Planning

Planning facilitates Co-ordination by integrating the various plans through mutual discussion, exchange of ideas, e.g. Co-ordination between finance budget and purchases budget.

Co-ordination through Organizing

Mooney considers Co-ordination as the very essence of organizing. In fact, when a manager groups and assigns various activities to subordinates and when he creates department’s Co-ordination uppermost in his mind.

Co-ordination through Staffing

A manager should bear in mind that the right number of personnel in various positions with right type of education and skills are taken which will ensure right men on the right job.

Co-ordination through Directing

The purpose of giving orders, instructions and guidance to the subordinates is served only when there is a harmony between superiors and subordinates.

Co-ordination through Controlling

Manager ensures that there should be Co-ordination between actual performance and standard performance to achieve organizational goals. From above discussion, we can very much affirm that Co-ordination is the very much lifeline of management. It is required in every function and at each and every stage and therefore it cannot be separated.

Types of Co-ordination

Co-ordination can be broadly classified into one of the following four types:

Internal Co-ordination

Co-ordination among the employees of the same department or section, among workers and managers at different levels, among branch offices, plants and departments and sections is called internal Co-ordination.

External Co-ordination

Co-ordination with customers, suppliers, government and outsiders with whom the enterprise has business connections is called external Co-ordination.

Vertical Co-ordination

Vertical Co-ordination is what exists in a department where the departmental head is called upon to coordinate the activities of all those placed below him.

Horizontal Co-ordination

Horizontal Co-ordination takes place sideways. It exists between different departments such as production, sales, purchasing, finance, personnel etc.

Techniques of Co-ordination

The following are some important techniques of Co-ordination.


The oldest as well as the simplest device for achieving, Co-ordination is hierarchy or chain of command. By putting interdependent units under one, boss, some Co-ordination among their activities in ensured.

Rules, Procedures and Policies

The specification of rules, procedures and policies is another common device to co-ordinate sub units in the performance of their repetitive activities. Standard policies, procedures and rules are laid down to cover all possible situations.


Planning ensures Co-ordination efforts. Under planning, targets of each department do connect with the targets of all other departments. For example, by fixing the target of 10,000 units of additional production and sale for the production and sales departments respectively, the head of the organization can be fairly sure that the work of the two departments would be Co-ordination since their target so demand.


Participative, committee or group decision-making is another common coordinating device. This device greatly eases the rigidity of the hierarchical structure, promotes effective communication and understanding of ideas, encourages the acceptance of the commitment to policies and makes their implementation more effective.


Inducting the new employee into the new social setting of his work is also a coordinating mechanism. This device familiarizes the new employee with the organizations rules and regulations its dominant norms of behavior, values and beliefs and integrates his personal goals with the organizational goals.


Indoctrinating organizational members with the goals and mission of the organization. A device used commonly in religious and military organizations is still another Co-ordination device.


Another mechanism entails providing interdependent units with an incentive to collaborate, such as a profit-sharing plan. Ardent advocates of profits–sharing claim that it promotes team spirit and better cooperation between employers and workers, between superiors and subordinates and between workers and workers.

Liaison Departments

In some cases where there is a large volume of contact between two departments, a liaison department evolves to handle the transaction. This typically occurs between sales and production departments. For example, a packaging company that is processing a particular large order to containers might have liaison department to make sure that the production department is meeting the clients specification and that the delivery will take place one time.


A workflow is the sequence of steps by which the organization acquires inputs, transforms them into outputs and exports these to the environment. It is largely shaped by technological economic and social consideration and helps in Co-ordination.

Principles of Co-ordination

In applying techniques for achieving effective Co-ordination in the organization, managers have to observe certain principles. Observance of these principles facilitates the application of various techniques of Co-ordination.

Mary Parker Follett, one of the classical management thinkers, has suggested four basic principles of Co-ordination: direct contact, Co-ordination at early stages, continuity and dynamism. To these, two more principles in the form of timing and reciprocal relationship were added. Let us see how these principles work and aid to effective Co-ordination.

Principle of Direct Contact

Principle of direct contact states that Co-ordination can be achieved by direct contact among people whose activities are to be coordinated. Such a contact can be established through the provision of effective communication system.

Direct contact helps in bringing agreement on work methods, actions and achievement of ultimate objectives. It helps to wither away the controversies and misunderstandings among organizational members as well as external parties.

Principle of direct contact is based on the theme that Co-ordination is better achieved through mutual understanding and not by force order or coercion.

Co-ordination at the Early Stages

Co-ordination can better be achieved if it is attempted at the early of stage of work cycle that is at the planning stage. At the stage of planning such as objective setting, strategy and policy formulation, etc., Co-ordination can be sought from organizational members.

This may be done through their participation in decision-making process. When members are involved in decision-making process, they realize how their work performance affects other members in the organization.

This happens because participate decision-making enables members to commit and agree on various issues. Conflict and in congruence are reduced which are major hurdles for effective Co-ordination.

Principle of Continuity

The principle of continuity states that Coordination should be treated as a continuous process; it should be taken on regular basis. Co-ordination should be treated as never-ceasing and never-ending exercise of all managers and in all functions. Follett has stated that Co-ordination emerges with the organisation and ends with it.

Principle of Dynamism

Principle of dynamism states that Co-ordination does not work on the basis of rigid and fixed basis but on dynamic basis. Dynamism is required because changes occur in external factors, which necessitate changes in the organization and its processes including Co-ordination. When organizational changes take place, many old organizational practices do not remain workable. This is true for Co-ordination too.

Principle of Timing

The principle of timing involves that various organizational units and members should synchronize the timing of their work performance. One member of the organization facilitates the working of another if he synchronizes the timing of his work with the working of another.

For example, in an assembly work, the different stages of the work are interrelated in such a way that a subsequent stage can be undertaken only when the earlier stage has been completed. In such a case, Co-ordination of timing at different stages is important.

Principle of Reciprocal Relationship

Reciprocal relationship exists between two or more parties in which each party affects the functioning of others and in turn is affected by others. In the organizational context, various departments may have reciprocal relationship though the amount of reciprocity may not be equal in the reciprocal relationship,

if a department is affected by some functions of another department but the former does not have control over these functions, the problem of Co-ordination arises. In this situation, the functions and the way of performing such functions are altered in such a way that these affect others positively.

For example, the level of production in production department may be decided in consultation with marketing department so that optimum level of production is main-trained.

Obstacles in Coordination

Though co-ordination is essential, large business enterprises due to their large number of departments, like – production, purchase, sales, finance, personnel etc. find it difficult to execute co-ordination.

These departments of large enterprises find it hard to collaborate with each other due to the differences in their attitudes and working styles. Paul R. Lawrence has identified such obstacles of co-ordination in the form of various differences, they are as under:

Differences in orientation towards particular goals

Members of different departments develop their own views about how best to advance the interest of the organization. For sales people the product variety may take precedence over product quality.

Differences in time orientation

Some members of an organization such as production managers will be more concerned with problems that have to be solved immediately or within a short period of time. Others, like members of research and development team, may be preoccupied with problems that may take years to solve.

Differences in interpersonal orientation

In some organizations, activities such as production, there may be more formal ways of communicating and decision making. In other activities such as R &D, the style of communication and decision may be informal. Everyone may been courage to have a say and to discuss his ideas with others.

Differences in formality of Structure

Each unit in the organization may have different methods and standards for evaluating progress towards objectives and for rewarding employees. In a production department for e.g. where quantity and quality are rigidly controlled the evaluation and reward process might be quite formal. Employees will be judged quickly on how they will need or exceed well defined performance criterion

Need for Coordination

The extent of Co-ordination needed in an organization depends on the nature of tasks and degree of interdependence of people in various units performing them. When these tasks require or can benefit from communication between units, then a high degree of Co-ordination is the best. When information exchange is less, important work may be completed with less interaction between units.

Also a high degree of Co-ordination is likely to be beneficial for work that is non-routine and unpredictable. The need for Co-ordination arises because of the following factors.

Division of labor

When managers divide work into specialized functions or departments at the same time create the need for the Coordinator of these activities. Generally, the greater the division of labor, the greater is the need for Co-ordination.

If two people in one unit do all the work of an organization, it is clear that there is little need for Co-ordination. But if the work has been divided into ten units with hundred employees, the need for Co-ordination is much greater.

Coordination ensures proper synchronization between activities of different units? and avoids interruptions in operations due to reasons such as delay to introduce Co-ordination into the plan at a later stage when the damage has already been done.

Direct interpersonal horizontal relationship

Co-ordination can be secured effortlessly and effectively by direct interpersonal horizontal relationship. Such a direct personal communication brings about agreement on methods, actions and ultimate achievements and removes misunderstandings and conflicts. These will involve a system in formal communication embracing all ranks and status.


Co-ordination must be regarded as a continuous process and must be carried out at all times. It starts from planning and runs through the functions of organizing directing and controlling.

Efforts of Managers

One should not be under the wrong impression that Co-ordination can be achieved merely by giving an order. Coordination is something, which cannot be ordered. On the contrary, it must be brought into by the efforts of the managers by integrating all efforts, ideas and interests to some common purpose.


Co-ordination should not be rigid. Its essence lies in constant experimentation with all phases of organization and operations. Good Co-ordination will remove the critical points as they arise. Excellent Co-ordination will anticipate them and prevent their occurrence.

The maintenance and operations department of an airline company provide an example of this kind of relationship. Obviously, this close interrelationship leads to the strongest need for Co-ordination.


What is Co-ordination?

Co-ordination is the management of interdependence in work situations it is the orderly synchronization or fitting together of the inter-dependent efforts of individuals, in order to attain a common goal.

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