What Is Organizational Jurisdiction?

By Gerald Hanks

Organizational jurisdiction involves how each department handles its assigned tasks.
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In legal terms, organizational jurisdiction often refers to a government entity that oversees a specific region. For instance, city police protect municipalities, state troopers cover their home state, and federal law enforcement agencies work across the entire United States. In business terms, organizational jurisdiction refers to a department that oversees a specific set of tasks. For example, the sales department is in charge of generating revenue, while the accounting department is responsible for keeping the company's financial records in order.

Organizational Jurisdiction and Structure

Unlike with government entities, the boundaries between departments in a company are not always as clear as lines on a map. Some tasks may involve departmental overlap. For instance, the installation of a new payroll software system my include participants from accounting, human resources and information technology departments. The company's organizational structure can help to delineate the tasks involved in such a project and increase the efficiency of this overlap.

Organizational Jurisdiction and Information

Organizations function at their best when departments share information. When one department has information that its workers either can not or will not share with others who need it, the entire company suffers. For instance, the sales staff at a computer software company takes preorders from customers on a new software release that they say will be ready in two months. The sales staff take these preorders unaware that the company's programmers are behind schedule and will not have the new release ready for six months.

Organizational Jurisdiction and Disputes

When projects overlap into different departments, managers in their respective departments may tie their objectives to their specific department rather than to the project as a whole. These territorial attitudes can lead to disputes over costs during the project, credit after a successful project, or blame after a failure. The project leaders must keep in mind the project goals and communicate with department heads about how achieving these goals will also increase the effectiveness of their departments.

Organizational Jurisdiction and Partners

Companies that use partners on various projects may also encounter issues with organizational jurisdiction. For instance, a customer with an Apple iPhone and an AT&T calling plan attempted to change his plan structure. The customer paid several visits to retail outlets for both companies, plus spent several hours on the telephone in customer service calls, before the problem was resolved. The failure resulted from the two global partners failing to determine which company had the jurisdiction to make the requested changes, so the burden fell on the customer.