Beyond addiction: Hierarchy and other ways of getting strategy done

Miguel Pina e. Cunha*, Arménio Rego, Stewart Clegg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Hierarchy is habitually presented as the right organizational infrastructure through which to deploy and achieve strategy. We analyze the strategy process, specifically the strategy/execution debate, from the perspective of hierarchy, and contrast the hierarchical mode - where top management dominates by separating strategy/formulation and execution - with three alternative modes where the power circuits of strategy extend beyond the managerial elite and are shared by several strategic agents. These three possibilities are: (1) the porous hierarchical mode, in which the hierarchs/higher-ups transfer part of the power for shaping and informing the strategy to the base of the organization; (2) the distributed mode, in which the hierarchs have no direct influence but rather indirect moral authority over execution, and (3) the strategy as simple rules mode, in which strategy/execution is taken as a single iterative process where strategy evolves on the basis of a minimal structure that facilitates strategic interaction and prevents hierarchical control from stifling adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-503
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Management Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • Execution
  • Hierarchy
  • Simple rules
  • Strategy


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