1st Edition

Hierarchy A Key Idea for Business and Society

By John Child Copyright 2019
    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    EURAM's Book of the Year in 2020, Hierarchy takes readers on a journey which traverses how this idea has evolved, is understood in various disciplines, and is applied in practice.

    Referring a wide range of sources, the book provides an inspirational introduction to understanding what is perhaps the key idea in business and management. As a fundamental organizational principle, hierarchy is everywhere. Perhaps because of its ubiquity, the significance of hierarchy has become under-analyzed in view of the growing strains on society imposed by organizational inequality. This book analyzes the advantages and disadvantages that hierarchy brings as a form of organization, providing an accessible overview of this fundamental idea within both business and society.

    This concise book provides a useful overview of existing research, for both students and scholars of business.

    1. What is Hierarchy and Why Does it Matter? Part I Hierarchy in Society at Large 2. Normative Perspectives on Hierarchy 3. Perspectives on Hierarchy in the Human and Social Sciences Part II Hierarchy in Organizations 4. The Persistence of Organizational Hierarchy 5. The Downside of Organizational Hierarchy Part III The Case for Reform 6. Hierarchy and the Contemporary Crisis 7. Reforming Hierarchy


    John Child is Professor of Commerce at the University of Birmingham, UK and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the author of 25 books and numerous scholarly articles.

    "A nicely written and extremely well-structured book that provides an excellent introduction to anyone wanting a clear and concise overview of organizational hierarchy, presenting some complex themes in an erudite manner."

    Daniel King, Organization

    "This little book is particularly useful, drawing attention to an idea so obvious that it has not been discussed enough and embedded in research into organisations. It gets to the point without involving itself in unnecessary discussions."

    Le Libellio

    "John Child elegantly captures the yin and yang of social hierarchy. His book dives deep into a perplexing paradox that permeates all organizations and cultures: hierarchies functionally and efficiently organize our interactions, yet they create division and inequality. John not only exposes this paradox but, more importantly, he identifies ways to harness the good in social hierarchy while minimizing its dark downside. It is a very timely read!"

    Adam Galinsky, Professor of Business at Columbia University, USA and co-author of the best-selling book, Friend & Foe

    "This impressive book combines an admirably broad focus on the phenomenon of hierarchy – ranging from its understanding by ancient philosophers to the latest analysis by contemporary business scholars – with great theoretical depth and extensive empirical substantiation of hierarchy’s many forms and consequences. For Child, the consequences go well beyond those of co-ordination and control of business operations to troubling social and political outcomes for contemporary society, and he makes his case by drawing on the literature from several disciplines. Beyond its intrinsic interest, the book’s exemplary clarity and accessible style will ensure it a readership well beyond the field of business management."

    Christel Lane, Professor Emeritus of Economic Sociology, University of Cambridge, UK

    "In his latest monograph, John Child describes succinctly how hierarchy persistently has been the backbone of our societies and organisations and, crucially, how this can - and should - be changed."

    Thomas Diefenbach, Professor in Management, Charles Darwin University, Australia

    "Modern organizations are supposed to be lean and decentralized, innovative and networked, open and project-based. Nevertheless, hierarchy remains the backbone of organizational coordination. This is what Professor John Child makes crystal clear in this book on the role of hierarchy in organizations, thereby linking the development of modern forms of organizing to developments in society (e.g. in terms of inequality). Written in a very accessible and concise style, John Child draws on a wide variety of disciplines, including not only economics, psychology, and sociology, but also anthropology and philosophy. A must read!"

    Jörg Sydow, Professor of Management, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany