Formal and informal hierarchy in different types of organization

Thomas Diefenbach, J.A.A.b Sillince

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper addresses the paradox that despite all organizational change towards flatter and postmodern organizations, hierarchical order is quite persistent. We develop a differentiated understanding of hierarchy as either formal or informal and apply this analytical framework to several types of organization. The analysis reveals that hierarchy is much more widespread than thought; in particular, postmodern, representative democratic and network organizations are much less 'alternative' and 'hierarchy-free' than their labels and common understanding may suggest. The main argument is that the persistence of hierarchy in different types of organization can be explained by different dynamic relationships between formal and informal hierarchy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1515-1537
Number of pages23
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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