Harvard Universal Press
|Number of Pages
Authoritarian Hierarchies Are Inevitable--So Let's Learn to Live with Them
Pundits have been forecasting the demise of the hierarchical corporation for decades. We denigrate those authoritarian structures as controlling, territorial, bureaucratic, and slow-and we celebrate "alternatives" that are flatter, more democratic, and networked.
But renowned organizational behavior expert Harold J. Leavitt argues that such alternative structures have not proven viable-or even desirable-and that despite its human failings, hierarchy remains the foundational shape of every large human organization. Why? Because it works. Top Down neither defends nor attacks the much-maligned hierarchy. Rather, this counterintuitive book convincingly shows that even the "flattest" of today's organizations are really just hierarchies in disguise-and, to improve the ways hierarchies function, we must first acknowledge their inevitability.
Exploring both the benefits and shortcomings of top-down structures, Leavitt shows how leaders can reshape hierarchies to incorporate the human values and motivations that enable employees to thrive. He then offers middle managers suggestions about how best to negotiate the way through those authoritarian mazes, while maintaining their personal integrity and even finding satisfaction in their work.
Top Down is a refreshing "get real" examination of the true state of today's workplace-and an important step toward creating organizations that are efficient and productive, but also egalitarian and humane.
Harold J. Leavitt is Kilpatrick Professor of Organizational Behavior Emeritus, the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University