Flat organization refers to a organizational structure with few or no levels of intervening management between staff and managers. The idea is that well-trained workers will be more productive when they are more directly involved in the decision making process, rather than closely supervised by many layers of management.
This structure is generally possible only in smaller organizations or individual units within larger organizations. When they reach a critical size, organizations can retain a streamlined structure but cannot keep a completely flat manager-to-staff relationship without impacting productivity. Certain financial responsibilities may also require a more traditional structure. Some theorize that flat organizations become more traditionally hierarchical when they begin to be geared towards productivity.
The flat organization model promotes employee involvement through a decentralized decision making process. By elevating the level of responsibility of baseline employees, and by eliminating layers of middle management, comments and feedback reach all personnel involved in decisions more quickly. Expected response to customer feedback can thus become more rapid. Since the interaction between workers is more frequent, this organizational structure generally depends upon a much more personal relationship between workers and managers. Hence the structure can be more time-consuming to build than a traditional bureaucratic/hierarchical model.