Adhocracy is a type of organization being antonymous to bureaucracy. The term was first popularized in 1970 by Alvin TofflerBob Travica, "New Organizational Designs: Information Aspects", Ablex/Greenwood, 1999, ISBN 1567504035, [ Google Print, p.7] ] , and has since become often used in the theory of management of organizations (particularly online organizations), further developed by academics such as Henry Mintzberg.


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


Robert H. Waterman, Jr. defined adhocracy as "any form of organization that cuts across normal bureaucratic lines to capture opportunities, solve problems, and get results." [] For Henry Mintzberg, an adhocracy is a complex and dynamic organizational form. [ Mintzberg's Organizational Configurations] ] It is different from bureaucracy; like Toffler, Mintzberg considers bureaucracy a thing of the past, and adhocracy one of the future. When done well, adhocracy can be very good at problem solving and innovations and thrives in a changing environment. It requires sophisticated and often automated technical systems to develop and thrive.

Characteristics of an adhocracy:

*highly organic structure
*little formalization of behavior
*job specialization 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
*a reliance on liaison devices to encourage mutual adjustment, the key coordinating mechanism, within and between these teamsTravica, op.cit., p.8]
*low standarization of procedures, because they stifle innovation
*roles not clearly defined
*selective decentralization
*work organization rests on specialized teams
*power-shifts to specialized teams
*horizontal job specialization
*high cost of communication
*culture based on democractic and non-bureaucratic work

All members of an organization have the authority to make decisions and to take actions affecting the future of the organization. There is an absence of hierarchy.

Alvin Toffler noted 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.

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. To address those problems, researches in adhocracy suggest a model merging adhocracy and bureaucracy, the bureau-adhocracy.

Use in fiction

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

See also

* Anarchism
* Here Comes Everybody



* "Adhocracy" by Robert H. Waterman, Jr. (ISBN 0-393-31084-1)
* "Future Shock" by Alvin Toffler (ISBN 0-553-27737-5)

External links

* [ Bureaucracy and Adhocracy] , by Evan Sycamnias

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Look at other dictionaries:

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