Ladders of Authority, Status, Responsibility and Ideology: Toward a Typology of Hierarchy in Social Systems

A.G.L. Romme (Corresponding author)

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Abstract

Hierarchy is a key characteristic of any complex system. This paper explores which notions of hierarchy are being used in the field of organization and management studies. Four distinct types of hierarchy are identified: a ladder of formal decision-making authority, a ladder of achieved status, a self-organized ladder of responsibility, and an ideology-based ladder. A social mechanism-based perspective serves to define and distinguish these four types. Subsequently, the typology is further developed by comparing the four hierarchy types in terms of their tacit/explicitness, (in)transitivity, and behavior- versus cognition-centeredness. This article contributes to the literature by dissecting the general metaphor of hierarchy into four different constructs and their social mechanisms, which serves to create a typology of the various ways in which complex social systems can be characterized as hierarchical. This typology can inform future research drawing on any type of hierarchy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20
Number of pages11
JournalSystems
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Complexity
  • Formal authority
  • Hierarchy
  • Organization
  • Responsibility
  • Self-organization
  • Social mechanism
  • Social system
  • Status
  • Typology

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