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7 Characteristics of Command And Control

Command and control is an approach to management based on strict authority and formal controls. This is primarily associated with military organizations but may be adopted by other organizations as an element of their culture and systems. Command and control is appropriate where work requires extreme diligence because the implications of failure are grim. The following are basic characteristics of command and control management.


Clearly defined formal authority that extends into every aspect of work such that there is little or no job depth for anyone without authority. In a true command and control organization informal authority such as influencing has no effect.

Chain of Command

Chain of command is a hierarchy that allows orders to be executed across an organization. This is a power structure based on formal authority often organized into structured job titles known as rank.


A culture of discipline whereby orders are filled quickly and accurately. This is typically reinforced with penalties for failures of discipline, including seemingly minor infractions.


Formal business processes such as a workflow for procuring supplies.


Procedures such as checklists that control every aspect of work.


Policies such as rules that are specified in great detail such that they aren't open-ended.


Technologies that are used to automate, orchestrate, monitor and report on controls.


Command and control benefits diligence at the expense of creativity. Depending on the context, its requirement of strict discipline may damage employee satisfaction and a firm's ability to recruit and retain talent. In the private sector, command and control is mostly associated with large firms that are in decline due to competition from more imaginative and inspired foes.
Overview: Command And Control
An approach to management based on strict authority and formal controls.
Related Concepts

Command And Control

This is the complete list of articles we have written about command and control.
Business Processes
Formal Authority
Internal Controls
Job Depth
Leadership Style
Management Style
Working Conditions
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