Vertical vs. horizontal firm structure

After reviewing some of the practice questions again I realized this question might not be providing enough information to distinguish between the organizational types, specifically horizontal and vertical. The scenario is describing both in a way and if anything is leaning more towards horizontal rather than vertical.

An architectural startup has grown large enough to have teams within the office. Each team is headed up by a project manager and overseen by one of the firm’s principals. The teams will generally be working on 2-3 projects consecutively, depending on the workload.

Which organizational method does this describe?

Correct answer was vertical but do we really have enough information here?

From what i can tell both vertical and horizontal are headed up by PMs and overseen by the principal and regarding the amount of projects a team is working on at once, both structures could have team working on multiple projects at once if we consider the design and CA departments as teams.

EDIT: Is the major difference and take away from the question and two types that horizontal structure “projects” are managed by PMs and not the “teams”?


Hi @Charlesanthonylent ,

Could you please remove the images? Unfortunately, we cannot allow posting of paid content, including AHPP screenshots. We can definitely quote & cite the AHPP though! For those reading this after the images are removed, they were the horizontal and vertical organization charts form page 611 of the AHPP.

This is one of those questions where you need to select the most correct answer. There a few clues given in the scenario. The first is that this firm is a startup that has recently grown large enough to form teams. This means we are talking about a small to midsized firm. Per page 610 of the AHPP, “Most [small] offices use the vertical or matrix model”. So we know right away that it is unlikely that this is a horizontal organization.

In addition, we can glean what organization they are using by looking at the number of projects each team is working on. In vertical organization, a select team works with project through all phases, from SD to CD to CA. In vertical organization it is likely that teams are working on one primary project and then maybe have one or two secondary projects. In horizontal organization, a select team works on a single phase (or group of phases) only. Then, the project is passed on to a separate team. It is likely that each team is only working on a singular project at one time but turning it over to the next team in rapid succession - the AHPP describes it like an assembly line.

In all of the organization types the projects are (ideally) managed by a singular project manager.

Hope this helps!

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Hi, sorry about the screenshots. Maybe it’s because I already edited the post once but i am not able to edit the post to remove the screenshots.

No worries, thanks for trying! I’ll go ahead and get them removed.

Please let me know if you have any other questions I can help with.