ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (8): 1467-1479.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2015.01467

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Organizational Hierarchy: Basic Concepts and Mechanisms

WEI Xuhua1,2; LIU Yongmei2; CHEN Sixuan2   

  1.   (1 School of Management, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China)(2 Business School, Central South University, Changsha 410083, China)
  • Received:2014-08-29 Online:2015-08-15 Published:2015-08-15
  • Contact: LIU Yongmei, E-mail:


Confucian hierarchy thought significantly influences both organizational culture and structure in Chinese enterprises. However, organizational hierarchy research has not been well summarized for application to Chinese organizations. Based on recent theoretical and empirical papers in organizational management, psychology and labor economics, this study is a systematic review of organizational hierarchy research. On the whole, organizational hierarchy refers to the rank orders of organizational members with respect to valued social dimensions, and can be divided into three types, which are power, status and pay hierarchies. These hierarchies arise from organizational requirements for communication and coordination, and affect individuals, teams and organizations through two mechanisms: motivation and rank. Future research should clearly distinguish between organizational hierarchy types, pay more attention to status hierarchy, explore moderators between organizational hierarchy and outcome variables, and consider cross-level research designs and the role of Chinese localization theory.

Key words: hierarchy, power, status, pay, inequality