Different Perspectives Of Organisation Structure Commerce Essay


There are many different perspectives on how an organisation should be structure but there is no particular way of structuring an organization. According to Contingency Theory so many factors such as size, Technology, Market etc, determine the structure of an organisation. Anon (2008).

There is need for a "design of an effective structure to reflect the objectives of the organisation and the context in which it operates" (Fincham and Rhodes 1999: 355).

This paper work considers the organisational structure of United Bank for Africa Plc and addresses the way in which the organisation is structure.

Identify the organisational goals of United Bank for Africa Plc as expressed in the organisation mission and vision statement of the bank.

Identify and examine the organizational contingencies of United Bank for Africa Plc.

Assess the fit between the organisational structure of United Bank for Africa plc and its organisational goals.

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United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) is a full service financial institution operating in the banking industry. It is a product of the merger of Nigeria's third (3rd) and fifth (5th) largest banks, namely the old UBA and the erstwhile Standard Trust Bank Plc (STB) respectively, and a subsequent acquisition of the erstwhile Continental Trust Bank Limited (CTB).

(Anon 2010))

United Bank for Africa Plc is the biggest of all the 24 Banks operating in Nigeria. It has the highest number of branches of over 600 branches across the country and over 7 million customers. The Head office of the Bank is located at 57, Marina, Lagos Nigeria.

UBA's history dates back to 1948 when the British and French Bank Limited ("BFB") commenced business in Nigeria and the erstwhile STB and CTB both in 1990. Following Nigeria's independence from Britain, UBA was incorporated in 1961 to take over the business of BFB.  Today's UBA emerged at a time of industry consolidation induced by regulation in year 2005.

(Anon 2010)


Organizational structure according to Mintzberg (cited in Cole G: 184) is "the sum total of the way in which it divides its labour into distinct task and then achieves coordination between them"

United Bank for Africa Plc operates a tall hierarchical flexible structure with some elements of Bureaucracy. United Bank for Africa Plc operating structure consists of six strategic business units: North Bank, South Bank, International Bank, Retail Financial Services, UBA Capital, Products and Segment Market and four strategic support unit: Finance, Risk Management, Operations and Internal Audit.

At the very top of the firm is the Board of directors, reporting to them is the GMD/CEO. Reporting to him are the Heads of the strategic business and supporting units, who are Deputy Managing Director UBA Nigeria North, Deputy Managing Director UBA Nigeria South, CEO UBA Int'l, CEO UBA Capital, Executive Director Product segment, Group Chief Finance Officer, Group Risk Officer, Group Chief Operating Officer and General Manager, Group Internal Audit.

The largest of these business strategic units, is UBA Nigeria South bank which is broken down into Regional Banks and further broken down into branches. The branches are located in different areas of the country. The Regional banks are being managed by Regional Bank Heads, reporting to them are the Regional Directors, and next are the Business Manager, followed by Profit Centre Manager and beneath are the Relationship Managers and operatives.

Due to the size of the Bank, Head office is the strategic centre and has overall control of strategic planning, major policy decision, special project, product development, capital Budgeting and financial control. While the Regional Bank Heads, through the Regional Directors and Business Managers run the day to day operations of the branches. Each branch is given a yearly financial target and the performance of the branch is judged based on profitability. It will be noted that this is a 'divisionalized' structured based on location (Cole 2004:)

There are two major departments in the branch these are; the marketing department and the operation department. Various units operate under each of the department; these are customer service unit, cash and teller unit, funder transfer unit, admin unit(operation department) Local business unit, small business unit and mass market unit (Marketing department). While other departments like, Treasury, Corporate services, Credit, Trade operations etc, are centralised in head office. Tasks are assigned to unit and individuals. This can be likened to the principle of There is "division of labour" ( Linstead, Fulop and Lilley 2004:129)

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Job specialisation is deemphasised. Although there is written Job descriptions, stating the task attached to jobs and the person to whom the job holder is accountable for performance but a staff can be move from one unit to the other if a need arise. For example if there are many customers to be service at the cash and teller unit, some staff in fund transfer unit or customer service unit can be move to urgently assist in cash and teller unit. There is also departmental control function checklist, to monitor task done.

Span of control, there are many authority level and close supervision of task, although there is no specify number of positions that can be coordinated by one supervisor, but the minimum number of staff that report to a supervisor is three. The diagram below shows the level of supervision in a Regional Bank.


Deputy Managing Director

Regional Bank Head

Regional Director

Business manager

Profit centre Manger

Relationship Managers


There are four levels of staff in the bank, they are, Top Management staff, Middle Management staff, Senior staff and the Junior staff.

Staffs receive order directly from their immediate supervisors. Directives flow down from senior management (GMD/CEO, DMD), through middle management (Regional Bank Head, Regional Director), to senior staff who are the first line managers (Business manager, Profit centre manager) and subordinates (junior staff), and reporting relationship flow upward through same channel. This can be likened to Henry Fayol's principle of scalar chain or chain of command. Anon (2008)

The marketing staff ".......performs task functions that are directed towards specific and definable end results while the Operation staff performs functions that are designed to drive the system to achieve the set goals" (Robin and Rodes 1999:357)

Authority is widely "diffused" throughout every managerial level to senior staff level of the Bank. Cole G. (2004). Authority is decentralised but strictly Control. For example a Head Teller as the authority to recommend a Teller that is not performing to be move to another unit.

The major policy decisions are centralized while operational responsibility is delegated (decentralized). For example, Senior management make Strategic decisions such as; technology or software to be employed by the organization; a major market or product change, mergers and acquisitions, capital budget and investments. Such decisions do have very great and latent effect on the future of the Bank. Regional Bank Heads are 'empowered' to make tactical decisions which are product and market related decisions and are usually being made to outweigh competition and win more market share for the bank. Business managers are 'empowered' to make operational decisions that affect the day to day running of the branch. The decisions at this level are usually on short and intermediate basis and they are usually being influenced by the unfolding realities in the market place.

Business managers as the responsibility to manage their branches, but within an approved budget outside which their powers are "strictly limited" (Robin and Rhodes: 368). For instance, the business manager handle the capital expenditure and operating expenditure of the branch but there is a maximum amount a business manager can approve for a single expense and total amount that can be spent on operating and capital expenditure in a period. Any amount of expenditure that is above the business manger limit must be approved by the next line supervisor.

There are specified laid down operational procedures, policies and manuals that specify standard of performance. These are: operation policy and control manual, staff hand book, expense empowerment policy, operational risk management policy, code of professional conduct and ethics, email policy, whistle blower protection policy, etc. These policies are to guide and bring uniformity in processing. For instance the expense empowerment policy is the rule guiding expenditure. It specify amount of money that can the approve by specified authorised person.

There is a performance monitoring system named 'INFO POOL', which is driven by the principles of the Balanced Scorecard. The Balanced Scorecard Approach is a strategic planning and management system that uses financial and non - financial metrics as a business planning and performance measurement mechanism. Performance measurement is viewed from four perspectives: Financial, Internal process, Customer Service, and Learning and Growth.

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In order to assess employees performances, financial and non-financial key performance indicators (KPIs) was developed along the Balanced Scorecard dimensions. To drive this new performance management system, management introduced performance incentive pay to boost employee morale and increase productivity. High performers are objectively identified and rewarded appropriately in line with predetermined percentages of their pay.


The goals of United Bank for Arica plc are highlighted below:

To be the reference point for service, quality and innovation in the financial services industry and to achieve significant difference between UBA and other banks on all key parameters. Anon(2010)

It desires to occupy the foremost position amongst its peers in the industry along key metrics: market share, profitability, balance sheet size etc. Anon(2010)

It desires to achieve a clear and significant lead over peers along all key measures and significantly influence financial services industry policy and direction. Anon(2010)

It desires to provide a broad range of financial services products and services offerings to meet the needs of its chosen market segments. Anon(2010)

It primary focus shall be on the African region where it intends to deploy its array of financial services products and service offerings. To also maintain a selective presence in key locations worldwide on an opportunistic basis. Anon(2010)

Business decisions shall be driven by the desire to achieve significant value-added for all stakeholders. Anon(2010)

Putting in place governance and strategic management practices that ensure that this organization will successfully anticipate and respond to environmental discontinuities and effectively manage leadership transitions at all levels. Anon(2010)


United Bank for Africa Plc is faced with various numbers of organisational contingencies and these contingencies have equally affected the manner in which the organisation is structure. The organisational contingencies are;




Government Regulator

Risk and control environment


United Bank for Africa Plc is a big bank broken down into Regional Banks with over 600 branches in Nigeria and over 13,000 employees. The branches are classified into four different categorises according to their location, operational size and environment. These are large branches, medium branches, basic branches and macro branches. The size of the bank has led to "Standardisation of procedures, processing methods and employment practices, specialisation of function and role, and formalisation of documentation"(Cole 2004:186) to enhance process uniformity across the Bank. This can be likened to Lawrence and Lorsch concepts of differentiation and integration Anon (2008:28). Differentiation approach because the bank is broken into Regional Banks and Branches and each of these branches operates in different locations and environments. This is also similar to Integration approach because there is standardize roles and regulation, operational policy manual guiding the operation of the branches and enhancing uniformity in processing and service method. It can also be argued that the structure has the six primary variable of structure as identified by the Aston Studies Anon (2008)


Technology plays a vital role in the financial sector. In response to the demand for quick efficient and reliable services, The Bank as deployed technology- driven products and services as means of influencing and redefining customers' behavioural pattern and life style. Well developed outsourcing support functions are increasingly used to provide services and manage cost. For example; ATM networks, cards processing, bill presentment and payment, software development, call centre operations and network management.

According to Wood wards studies UBA PLC can be refer to as "process industry" authority and power are decentralized and responsibilities are delegated by line supervisors, employee receive order from one superior only Cole(2004: 86.) The span of control is high at the senior management level, for example ten strategic unit heads report directly to the group managing director and this decreases at the middle management. For example at the branch level the business manager is the managing director of the branch and reporting to whom is the branch operation manager and the three profit centre manger. Employees are knowledgeable of the bank's products and processing methods. Employees are committed to organisation task as defined in their job descriptions.


UBA Plc Operate in competitive and an uncertain environment where market keeps changing for example Customers are now becoming more knowledgeable and financially savvy. Their benchmark for service quality has also risen aided by the intense competition among financial services providers to attract new customers. Customers now set the agenda and influence decisions. Be slow or inflexible the business moves over to the competition. In order to achieve the bank's aspiration or goals, it resolves to remain customer centric and bring decision making closer to the frontline. With this, the business units respond flexibly and promptly to the different requirements of the bank targeted customers. It this can be likened to "organic structure" which emphasize decentralization to achieve flexibility and adaptability

Government Regulator

The central Bank of Nigeria is the main regulator in the financial sector in Nigeria, they play a vital role in the structure of a bank and they also control and monitor the operation of the bank through various policies, rules and regulations, for example there must be a CBN approval and license for a bank to operate, CBN must approve the appointment of board of directors of the bank and the managing director of a bank. In year 2009 CBN came out with a policy that state an individual person can only spend maximum of ten years as the managing director of the bank and also do give approval for the opening and closing of banks' branches.

The bank has a both Compliance and Statutory Audit Committee Units. The Compliance unit is headed by the Chief Compliance Officer who then reports to the Group Chief Risk Officer. A major role of the unit is to ensure that the bank does not infract any regulatory rules and /or regulations. Similarly, the Statutory Audit committee whose primary function is to monitor the process design to ensure compliance by the group in all respect with regulatory requirements, including disclosure, controls and procedures (Anon: 2010).

Risk and control environment

Risk management is integral to the Bank's strategy setting process, it is an essential tool for achieving the Bank's objectives. This is achieved by keeping risk management at the centre of all executive agenda and building a culture in which risk management is embedded and integrated in all banking activities (Anon 2010). Towards this end, UBA Plc has in place robust risk management policies and mechanism to ensure identification of risk and effective control.

The bank (UBA PLC) has defined and established appropriate governance arrangements with clear roles and reporting lines for risk management in the Bank.

The Board of directors is the highest risk management policy approval body and has the ultimate responsibility for the Bank's credit, market, operational, and other risk. The Bank has Risk management group these include Credit Risk management Group, Market Risk Management Group, Operational and IT Risk Management Group. Each Risk Management Group has direct responsibility for the development of its risk management frame work and they report directly to the Group chief Risk officer who in turn report to the General managing director, who also report to the Board of directors.


There is little fit between United Bank For Africa plc structure and its organisational goals. The structure supports some of the organisational goals. Delegation of decision making to the frontline where the work is performed is targeted towards the goal to occupy the foremost position amongst its peers in the industry along key metrics: market share, profitability, balance sheet size. Delegation of decision making has enable business unit to respond flexibly and promptly to different requirement of customer and has resulted in the achievement of some of its goals for example The Bank gross earnings increase by 45.6 % to N246.7 billion in the last financial year ended December 2009 as against N169 billion in year 2008. This was achieved as a result of the bank expansion to other African country, its lending activities and other activities in the African country. UBA current operation in 19 African countries, New York London and Paris this an evidence that the bank has set its foot prints across Africa and other continent.

The bank has a strict regulatory and compliance framework by ensuring that there a zero tolerance to fraud and other policy infractions. This culture is greatly supported by its compliance and audit check committee and strict internal control system which are entrenched across every strata and operational levels in the bank and targeted towards the goal of abiding by the utmost and ethical standard and It desires to achieve a clear and significant lead over peers along all key measures and significantly influence financial services industry policy and direction.

The usage of outsourcing support functions to provide services such as; ATM networks, card processing, bill presentment and payment, software development, call centre operation and net work management etc, is targeted towards It desires to provide a broad range of financial services products and services offerings to meet the needs of its chosen market segments. The bank is currently providing various ranges of products and services to its customers. The bank has introduced a lot of technological driven product such as, mobile banking, automated teller machine (ATM), Udirect or internet banking, etc. With these product customers do not need to get to the bank to consummate their financial transaction. With internet banking and mobile banking customer can transfer fund from one account to the other, customer receive notification of consummated transaction on their account on their mobile phone, and customer can make cash withdrawal from the ATM. There are also different types of loan product a customer can access in the bank depending on the customer type of business, income level, place of work etc. For example the bank has loan facility structured strictly for customers that are under pay employment such loans are NO wahala loan, executive loan, assets finance loan etc. While customers that are not under pay employment can access Temporary overdraft and commercial loan.

The structure at the same time is not supporting some goals of the organisation because of some element of bureaucracy in its structure. There are so many operational and procedural bottlenecks, unnecessary paper work that slow down transaction, time consuming procedure, and internal control of maker/checker/verifier. This defeats the organisational goal of being the reference point for service, quality and innovation, the bank is more control focused than being customer centric. For example, the newly introduced account reactivation procedures which is encumbered with a lot of rework and not cost and time effective in the sense that an address verification and Know Your Customer procedure would need to be carried out again before an existing customer of the bank can re- activate his/her account and this negates the bank's service quality drive.

There is also a mismatch in between the organisational structure and the organisational goal in the area of branch management. The branches are profit centres. The branch managers are expected to generate income and pay all operating bills including salaries. The business managers focus more on cost optimization in other to generate profit as against being customer centric. The business managers compromise a lot of things like availability of working resources and maintenance of office equipments. All these equipments frequently break down because they are not service as at when due and has also resulted in service failure and customer dissatisfaction. Customers spend more time in the banking hall because of the limited number of staff available to attend to their requests.

Another major mismatch is the limitation and control of the empowerment policy. For instance, Business Managers cannot approve certain level of expenditure which are very vital to their daily operations. Such include the purchase of fuel, stationeries, amongst others.


Having examined the various theoretical approaches to organisational structure design, it can be concluded that there is no best way of structuring an organisation; so many factors such as size, environment and technology contribute to the way in which an organisation is structured. The goal of an organization is also a factor to consider when structuring an organisation. Considering the structure of United Bank for Africa plc some elements of Bureaucracy in its structure is creating operational and procedural bottlenecks and will be required to be check. Although, the structure is flexible and respond quickly to environmental changes. Anon 2008). The following is recommended for improvement.

Job holder should be empowered and be held fully accountable for job done. According to Cole G. (2004:200) "Authority should be commensurate with responsibility" That is job holder should have the authority to take decision on their job.

The bank should adopt a 'lean structure' which will help to reduce the number of levels and unnecessary administrative over head. Fincham and Rhodes(2003)

Purchasing of office equipment, materials and maintenance of equipment should be centralized in order to take advantage of bulk purchase and manage cost effectively.

The bank can also adopt a "Radical Decentralization" Anon (2008) structure by decentralizing corporate functions to operational division. This will strengthen the branches, improve communication, human cooperation, encourage team work and eradicate staff/line conflict. Linstead, Fulop and Lilley (2004)