The answer is yes, they can.

There is nothing in Scrum that speaks to line management but there is no reason why a Scrum Master could not also be a line manager. I would, however, recommend that the Scrum Master is not a line manager for anyone in the team that he or she works with.

Why?

Because it changes the conversation and the team dynamic.

People are unsure as to whether they are speaking to you as their Scrum Master or whether they are speaking to their boss?

In many ways, the development team and the Product Owner need to have the freedom to disagree with one another or to hold their ground on elements that are important to them.

If they have an annual appraisal or a monthly performance review in a couple of days, they are naturally going to avoid trying to upset their boss in any way.

Especially if that boss determines their salary and future career prospects.

You would need to be extremely good at creating psychological safety for your team and you would need to be incredibly good at segmenting your different roles if you choose to be both a Scrum Master as well as a line manager for your team.

I have held both roles in the past and I found it incredibly difficult so I would not recommend it.

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