Executive Summary: Rank Rules!

Management gurus have forecast the end of organizational hierarchies for decades. In an era of cascading technology and shifting social attitudes, they say, firms will turn into "communities," "horizontal structures" and other egalitarian forms. Nice buzzwords, but not reality, says Stanford Business School professor Harold J. Leavitt in Top Down: Why Hierarchies Are Here to Stay and How to Manage Them More Effectively. Sure, Leavitt writes, hierarchies breed "infantilizing dependency that generates distrust, conflict, toadying, territoriality, backstabbing, distorted communication and most of the other ailments that plague every large organization." But they persist because compared with the alternatives, they are quite...

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