Hierarchical organization

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A hierarchical organization is an organizational structure where every entity in the organization, except one, is subordinate to a single other entity. This arrangement is a form of a hierarchy. In an organization, the hierarchy usually consists of a singular/group of power at the top with subsequent levels of power beneath them. This is the dominant mode of organization among large organizations; most corporations, governments, and organized religions are hierarchical organizations with different levels of management, power or authority. For example, the broad, top-level overview of the general organization of the Catholic Church consists of the Pope, then the Cardinals, then the Archbishops, and so on.

Members of hierarchical organizational structures chiefly communicate with their immediate superior and with their immediate subordinates. Structuring organizations in this way is useful partly because it can reduce the communication overhead by limiting information flow; this is also its major limitation.

Contents

Visualization

A hierarchy is typically visualized as a pyramid, where the height of the ranking or person depicts their power status and the width of that level represents how many people or business divisions are at that level relative to the whole—the highest-ranking people are at the apex, and there are very few of them; the base may include thousands of people who have no subordinates). These hierarchies are typically depicted with a tree or triangle diagram, creating an organizational chart or organigram. Those nearest the top have more power than those nearest the bottom, and there being fewer people at the top then at the bottom. As a result, superiors in a hierarchy generally have higher status and command greater rewards than their subordinates.

Common models

All governments and most companies have similar structures. Traditionally, the monarch was the pinnacle of the state. In many countries, feudalism and manorialism provided a formal social structure that established hierarchical links at every level of society, with the monarch at the top.

In modern post-feudal states the nominal top of the hierarchy still remains the head of state, which may be a president or a constitutional monarch, although in many modern states the powers of the head of state are delegated among different bodies. Below the head, there is commonly a senate, parliament or congress, which in turn often delegate the day-to-day running of the country to a prime minister. In many democracies, the people are considered to be the notional top of the hierarchy, over the head of state; in reality, the people's power is restricted to voting in elections.

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