Is Flatter Better? Delayering the Management Hierarchy

Kettley P | Report 290 | Institute for Employment Studies | Jun 1995

Central to the new model of organisation in the 1990s was a flatter structure, achieved by a reduction in the number of layers in the management hierarchy.

Such a structure became synonymous in popular management theory with bureaucracy busting, faster decision making, shorter communication paths, stimulating local innovation and a high involvement style of management.

Despite their popular appeal, the fundamental claims made in the literature were largely unchallenged. Like many organisational design concepts, there was some confusion as to what delayering meant in practice, how such a change should be implemented, and what support a shorter management hierarchy required.

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