chain of command – the line through a business' hierarchy that shows who is responsible for whom from top to bottom
(Pronounced chain of kuh-mand)
To remember the meaning of chain of command, think of a chain where each link represents a level of a business' hierarchy and, therefore, who commands who.
The longer the chain of command, the taller the organisational structure and the narrower the span of control each level of the hierarchy has. If a business removes layers of its management, it’s called flattening, i.e. the organisational structure becomes flatter.
A typical chain of command is displayed below in an organisational chart.