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Title: Adhocracy  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Management, Bureaucracy, Politics, Government, Socialism
Collection: 1970 Introductions, Anarchist Theory, Forms of Government, Management, Organizational Theory
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Adhocracy is a flexible, adaptable and informal form of Henry Mintzberg.

Adhocracy is characterized by an adaptive, creative and flexible integrative behavior based on non-permanence and spontaneity. It is believed that these characteristics allow adhocracy to respond faster than traditional bureaucratic organizations while being more open to new ideas.[2]


  • Overview 1
  • Characteristics of adhocracy 2
  • Types of adhocracy 3
  • Issues 4
  • Etymology 5
  • Use in fiction 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Sources 9



  1. ^ Bennis, Warren (1968). The Temporary Society. New York: Harper & Row. 
  2. ^ [2]. Business Dictionary
  3. ^ a b Waterman Jr., Robert (1990). Adhocracy: The Power to Change. Knoxville, TN: Whittle Direct Books. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Mintzberg, Henry (1989). Mintzberg on Management:inside our strange world of organizations. New York: Free Press. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Travica, Bob (1999). New organizational designs: information aspects. Stamford, Conn: Ablex Pub. Corp. 
  6. ^ a b Dolan, Timothy (2010). "Revisiting Adhocracy: From rhetorical revisionism to smart mobs". Journal of Future Studies 2: 33–50. 


See also

The asura in the fictional world of Tyria within the Guild Wars universe present this form of government, although the term is only used in out-of-game lore writings.

In the radio play Das Unternehmen Der Wega (The Mission of the Vega) by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, the human inhabitants of Venus, all banished there from various regions of Earth for civil and political offenses, form and live under a peaceful adhocracy, to the frustration of delegates from an Earth faction who hope to gain their cooperation in a war brewing on Earth.

The term is also used to describe the form of government used in the science fiction novels Voyage from Yesteryear by James P. Hogan and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, by Cory Doctorow.

Use in fiction

The word is a portmanteau of the Latin ad hoc, meaning "for the purpose", and the suffix -cracy, from the ancient Greek kratein (κρατεῖν), meaning "to govern",[5] and is thus a heteroclite.


Downsides of adhocracies can include "half-baked actions", personnel problems stemming from organization's temporary nature, extremism in suggested or undertaken actions, and threats to democracy and legality rising from adhocracy's often low-key profile.[5] To address those problems, researchers in adhocracy suggest a model merging adhocracy and bureaucracy, the bureau-adhocracy.[5]


Alvin Toffler claimed in his book Future Shock that adhocracies will get more common and are likely to replace bureaucracy. He also wrote that they will most often come in form of a temporary structure, formed to resolve a given problem and dissolved afterwards. An example are cross-department task forces.

  • administrative - "feature an autonomous operating core; usually in an institutionalized bureaucracy like a government department or standing agency" [6]
  • operational - solves problems on behalf of its clients [6]

Types of adhocracy

According to Robert H. Waterman, Jr., "Teams should be big enough to represent all parts of the bureaucracy that will be affected by their work, yet small enough to get the job done efficiently."[3]

All members of an organization have the authority within their areas of specialization, and in coordination with other members, to make decisions and to take actions affecting the future of the organization. There is an absence of hierarchy.

  • highly [4]
  • little formalization of behavior[4][5]
  • job specialization not necessarily based on formal training
  • a tendency to group the specialists in functional units for housekeeping purposes but to deploy them in small, market-based project teams to do their work[4]
  • a reliance on liaison devices to encourage mutual adjustment within and between these teams[4][5]
  • low or no standardization of procedures[5]
  • roles not clearly defined[5]
  • selective decentralization[5]
  • work organization rests on specialized teams[5]
  • power-shifts to specialized teams
  • horizontal job specialization[5]
  • high cost of communication[5] (dramatically reduced in the networked age)
  • culture based on non-bureaucratic work[5]

Characteristics of adhocracy

[5] It requires sophisticated and often automated technical systems to develop and thrive.[4] and thrives in a diverse environment.[5] When done well, adhocracy can be very good at problem solving and innovations[5]; like Toffler, Mintzberg considers bureaucracy a thing of the past, and adhocracy one of the future.bureaucracy It is different from [4]

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