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January 2018 Member Call – Self-managing organizations: Exploring the limits of less-hierarchical organizing

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Michael Y. Lee from Harvard Business School shared his research about novel organizational design and how formal structure can be leveraged to foster greater organizational effectiveness.  Fascination with organizations that eschew the conventional managerial hierarchy and instead radically decentralize authority has been longstanding, albeit at the margins of scholarly and practitioner attention. Recently, however, organizational experiments in radical decentralization have gained mainstream consideration, giving rise to a need for new theory and new research. His newly published paper co-authored with Amy Edmondson reviews the literature on less-hierarchical organizing and identifies three categories of research: post-bureaucratic organizations,humanistic management and organizational democracy. Despite this extensive prior work,scholarly understanding of radical decentralization remains limited. Using the term self-managing organizations to capture efforts that radically decentralize authority in a formal and systematic way throughout the organization, we set forth a research agenda to better understand less-hierarchical organizing at its limits. To read the full summary of the call click here.


To listen to a recording of the call, click here.

Mike will be offering a course at HBS on the topic.  To read more about it, click here.


Harvard Graduate School of Education