Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Difference can make a change: A literature review of heterogeneity in non-hierarchical organizational systems
by Thurtle, Mary Charlotte, M.A., Prescott College, 2010, 281; 1473606
Abstract (Summary)

Some organizational scholars believe viability in non-hierarchical organizations is encouraged by a homogeneous membership. From a systems thinking perspective, heterogeneity may provide the needed tension for organizations to self-organize, change, and adapt to both internal and external environments. This thesis explores these differing perspectives by critically analyzing the literature on heterogeneity in non-hierarchical organizations using qualitative and quantitative methods and a situated systems theory lens. This study is significant in that it seeks out literature in all disciplines that address the issue of heterogeneity in non-hierarchical organization emergence and sustainability. In doing so, it provides a foundation for interdisciplinary research on the topic. The literature on heterogeneity in non-hierarchical organizations indicates that homogeneous groups have less tension and therefore need fewer organizational structures and mechanisms to balance variety. However, homogeneous non-hierarchical organizations may not be viable in the long term because they do not reflect the larger socio-economic environment in which they operate. Within the socio-economic environment are dominant, or hegemonic, beliefs about people based on their gender, class, and ethnicity. Heterogeneity in non-hierarchical organizations can reveal hegemonic beliefs, which have organizational consequences particular to the organization and its surrounding socio-economic environment. Innovatively structured heterogeneous non-hierarchical organizations may have the potential to overcome hegemonic beliefs and be an avenue for organizational viability that challenges existing power structures and creates real change.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Covington, June
Commitee: Espinosa, Angela, Rushbrook, Dereka
School: Prescott College
Department: Humanities
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 48/03M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Business administration, Womens studies, Organization Theory
Keywords: Collectives, Cooperatives, Diversity, Hierarchy, Non-hierarchical organization, Organizational studies
Publication Number: 1473606
ISBN: 978-1-109-57545-3
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