David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Sociological Theory 23 (3):312-337 (2005)
The debate around Michels's "iron law of oligarchy" over the question of whether organizations inevitably become oligarchic reaches back almost a century, but the concept of oligarchy has frequently been left underspecified, and the measures that have been employed are especially inadequate for analyzing nonbureaucratically structured organizations. A conceptual model is needed that delineates what does and does not constitute oligarchy and can be applied in both bureaucratic and nonbureaucratic settings. Definitions found in the research are inadequate for two reasons. First, treating oligarchy solely as a feature of organizational structure neglects the possibility that a powerful elite may operate outside of the formal structure. A democratic structure is a necessary precondition, but it does not guarantee the absence of oligarchy. Second, studies that equate oligarchy with goal displacement and bureaucratic conservatism cannot account for organizations with radical goals that are nonetheless dominated by a ruling elite. This article presents a model that distinguishes between legitimate and illegitimate forms of formal and informal power to define oligarchy as a concentration of illegitimate power in the hands of an entrenched minority. The model is intended for use in organizations that are nominally democratic to determine whether a formal or informal leadership has in fact acquired oligarchic control. By providing a common framework for tracking fluctuations in the distribution and legitimacy of both formal and informal power, it is hoped that this model will facilitate a more productive bout of research on the conditions under which various forms of democratically structured organizations may be able to resist oligarchization
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Ja Rooke, Lj Koskela & M. Kagioglou, Informality in Organization and Research: A Review and a Proposal.
Olivier Boiral (2009). Greening the Corporation Through Organizational Citizenship Behaviors. Journal of Business Ethics 87 (2):221 - 236.
R. Syme (1988). Oligarchy At Rome: A Paradigm for Political Science. Diogenes 36 (141):56-75.
Kurt A. Raaflaub (1983). Democracy, Oligarchy, and the Concept of the "Free Citizen" in Late Fifth-Century Athens. Political Theory 11 (4):517-544.
Donald Vredenburgh & Yael Brender (1998). The Hierarchical Abuse of Power in Work Organizations. Journal of Business Ethics 17 (12):1337-1347.
Yasuhito Tanaka (2003). Garchy for Social Choice Correspondences and Strategy-Proofness. Theory and Decision 55 (3):273-287.
Michael T. Hannan, Glenn R. Carroll & László Pólos (2003). The Organizational Niche. Sociological Theory 21 (4):309-340.
Christophe Premat (2006). Castoriadis and the Modern Political Imaginary—Oligarchy, Representation, Democracy. Critical Horizons 7 (1):251-275.
Julia L. Shear (2011). Polis and Revolution: Responding to Oligarchy in Classical Athens. Cambridge University Press.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads31 ( #60,315 of 1,102,134 )
Recent downloads (6 months)6 ( #52,509 of 1,102,134 )
How can I increase my downloads?