Domination, self-determination and circular organizing

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64 Citations (Scopus)


The emergence of self-organizing forms of control, based on the idea of self-determination, have challenged traditional forms of control based on the concept of domination. As such, self-determination has been put forward as an alternative rather than as a complement to domination. This paper describes and explores the circular forms of organizing that have been emerging in several parts of the world, viewing them as a possible synthesis of two existing archetypical concepts of power-self-determination and domination. In particular, the emergence of circular organizing in the Dutch company Endenburg Elektrotechniek is documented and interpreted. This case illustrates how a circular structure can be superimposed on the administrative hierarchy, with the latter continuing to play a substantial role in controlling and managing work processes. In the absence of a single ultimate authority, organizational control is exercised through feedback rather than power. As a result of this study, circularity of power is shown to be an interesting theoretical and instrumental concept.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)801-832
Number of pages32
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • domination
  • self-determination
  • self-organization
  • control
  • organizational design
  • authority
  • circularity
  • power
  • sociocracy
  • circular management


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