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date: 20 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

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

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