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Page:Hine (1912) Letters from an old railway official.djvu/112

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Chicago, June 10, 1911.

My Dear Boy:—You have asked me to tell you something about line and staff. The term line is used to indicate the direct sequence toward the active purpose of the organization. The line officer exercises a direct authority over men and things. He is the incarnation of administrative action. The staff is supplementary to the line as equity is supplementary to law. The staff officer is the playwright. The line officer is the actor. The actor is usually too much absorbed with the technique of his art to write new plays. The line officer, as such, seldom originates new methods, because he is too close to his everyday problems of administration to cultivate perspective. The ideal staff officer has had experience in the line.

The line with a railroad—its fighting force, so to speak—is the operating department. Because they are staff departments the offices of