Challenging Hierarchy

John Child

in The Oxford Handbook of Critical Management Studies

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199595686
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management

 Challenging Hierarchy

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  • Business and Management
  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour
  • Research Methods


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This article first notes the centrality of hierarchy in organizations and asks why it is so persistent and taken for granted. It then briefly considers its organizational and psychological contributions before turning to the social costs it imposes. Having set out some parameters, and the problems associated with hierarchy, the article closes by considering possible alternatives to present forms of hierarchy. It concludes that it is a vital task for students of management and organization to examine such alternatives and the evidence for their efficacy so as to challenge the generally prevailing view that hierarchy, despite its faults, is unavoidable. There is today considerable hand-wringing about hierarchy by those who claim that it is a necessary evil, but who actually have their own reasons to maintain it.

Keywords: hierarchy; social costs; organizational behaviour; organizational efficiency; management studies

Article.  5967 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Research Methods

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