Adhocracy – Definition

Cite this article as:"Adhocracy – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated September 9, 2019, last accessed October 27, 2020,

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Adhocracy Definition

Adhocracy refers to a significant type of business management focusing on one’s capability to take action and be self-organized for achieving set objectives. It is an antonym to bureaucracy that consists of a specific rules and procedures, and follow a systematic process for attaining the set objectives. Alvin Toffler brought this term in notice in the 70s era.

A Little More on What is Adhocracy

Adhocracy gives companies the authority to be dynamic and carry its operations with lesser control. It is different from rigorous methods of making decisions where only the members who are associated with the final result are considered in the process, while others are not; alternatives are measured strictly, and decisions are taken, assigned, observed, implemented, and reviewed in a timely manner.

This form of flexible environment is good for industries or companies that are dynamic in nature, seek prospective opportunities, and convert them in their favor, thereby having a competitive edge over others. This concept is feasible for micro or small companies as well where the management can offer directions to employees as and when required. In contrast to this, it can create chaos and signal inefficiency in big companies. Different teams may work on same concept/subject leading to duplicacy of data/information. If the roles and duties are not properly assigned, it may call for inefficiency in individual as well as team performance, therefore, affecting the productivity.

Adhocracy is an organizational form that minimizes bureaucratic barriers in order to grab new opportunities, resolve issues, and achieve desired results. It can seem to be a dynamic form of organization that works differently from bureaucracy, if implemented properly. According to many organizations, adhocracy is considered to offer better results than bureaucracy, and premises for organization structure in the coming years. It is feasible for resolving issues effectively, making innovations, and prevails in different types of business environments supported with technical information systems.

Considering the drawbacks of adhocracy, it includes not-so effective solutions to problems, and issues relating to manpower rooting from the ever-changing nature of organization. As it involves a lot of flexibility in decision making, it can prove to be dangerous for ones who adore democracy. However, if one creates a balanced approach of adhocracy and bureaucracy, it will help in identifying and solving these issues. This approach is called bureau-adhocracy, and it has the following characteristics:

  • Structure occurs and adjusts to environment naturally
  • Less formalized expectations of employee behavior
  • Conventional training not linked to job specialization
  • Specialists or experts operate in functional areas more for housekeeping objectives, but can be allocated to other projects for achieving set targets
  • Inter and intra-changing with teams based on mutual agreement
  • Minimal or zero scope of standardizing system
  • Improper allocation of roles and duties
  • Specific decentralization of tasks
  • Specific authority offered to expert or special teams
  • Offering information in a horizontal manner
  • Non-bureaucracy being an important factor in organizational culture

Reference for “Adhocracy”…/our…/adhocracy-for-an-agile-age › Insights › Markets & Economy

Academics research on “Adhocracy”

Strategy formation in an adhocracy, Mintzberg, H., & McHugh, A. (1985). Strategy formation in an adhocracy. Administrative science quarterly, 160-197. The widely accepted view equates strategy making with planning, assuming that strategies are “formulated” before they are “implemented.” Based on the detailed tracking over time of the actions of a single project organization, strongly resemblant of an ideal type called “adhocracy,” this paper shows that strategies can “form” in a variety of different ways: from the precedents set by individual operators, from thin streams of activity that eventually pervade an organization, from spontaneous convergence in the behavior of a variety of actors, and so on. The paper first identifies and tracks the strategies pursued by this organization across almost four decades of its history and then presents the history of the organization in terms of strategic periods. These findings are then interpreted in conceptual terms, focusing on three themes: the emergent nature of the organization’s strategies and the difficulties of identifying intention in a collective context; the cycles of behavior that resulted from attempts to reconcile the concurrent needs for convergence and divergence; and the organization’s quest for adhocracy and the problems this posed for the exercise of formal leadership. The paper concludes with a “grass roots” model of strategy formation.

The development of management studies as a fragmented adhocracy, Whitley, R. (1984). The development of management studies as a fragmented adhocracy. Social Science Information, 23(4-5), 775-818.

Management research: a fragmented adhocracy?, Engwall, L. (1995). Management research: a fragmented adhocracy?. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 11(3), 225-235. This paper addresses the question of integration in the field of management research. Its point of departure is an analysis of the social and intellectual organization of the sciences undertaken by the British sociologist Richard Whitley. By focusing on the uncertainty involved in the research tasks and the mutual dependence between scientists in scientific fields, Whitley identifies nine possible ideal types, one of which — management — is said to exhibit a low level of integration and therefore to deserve the label “fragmented adhocracy”. The purpose of the present paper is to try to discover how far this holds true by looking at all the references occurring in the first eight volumes of the Scandinavian Journal of Management and the most important references in Swedish doctoral dissertations in business administration publicly defended prior to the end of 1985. The analysis provides evidence, in full accord with Whitley’s claim, that management studies are less integrated than disciplines such as mathematics, chemistry, the history of science and economics. However, there is also evidence that the degree of integration is increasing. In addition the analysis shows that works in organization theory, particularly those originating in the United States, constitute a common knowledge base for Scandinavian management researchers and Swedish doctors of business administration.

Adhocracy in policy development, Rourke, F. E., & Schulman, P. R. (1989). Adhocracy in policy development. The Social Science Journal, 26(2), 131-142. Since the 1930s, the president and other high officials frequently have used ad hoc organizations. The Hoover Commission, the Committee on Civil Rights, the Gaither Committee, the Scrowcroft Commission, and the Tower Commission are afew examples. The form may be called adhocracy. These temporary bodies build agendas, evaluate major blunders, resolve deadlocks, and even operate like regular agencies. The growth of adhocracy is a symptom of failure of the regular government and presents dangers of inadequacy, lack of accountability, and threats to democracy.

The relationships between adhocracy and clan cultures and tacit oriented KM strategy, Keskin, H., Akgün, A. E., Günsel, A., & İmamoğlu, S. Z. (2005). The relationships between adhocracy and clan cultures and tacit oriented KM strategy. Journal of Transnational Management, 10(3), 39-53. In this study knowledge is considered as explicit and tacit; and in line with this, knowledge management strategy that focuses on tacit knowledge is identified as tacit oriented knowledge management strategy. Organizational culture, which is one of the crucial antecedents of knowledge management process, is categorized into four types by using two dimensions—external versus internal orientation and formal versus informal organizational process—as adhocracy, clan, market and hierarchy. And the relationships between adhocracy, and clan culture and tacit oriented knowledge management strategy are investigated. Also the industrial environment hostility is used as a moderator between adhocracy and clan cultures, and tacit oriented knowledge management strategy. According to the regression analyses, adhocracy and clan cultures have positive effects on tacit oriented knowledge management strategy; and the impact (magnitude) of adhocracy culture is approximately the same as the clan culture on tacit oriented knowledge management strategy. Also it was found that greater industry environment hostility, the greater relationship between adhocracy and clan cultures, and tacit oriented knowledge management Strategy.

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