ad hoc + -cracy, by analogy with bureaucracy; coined by American organizational consultant Warren Bennis (1925–2014) and American sociologist Philip Slater (1927–2013) in The Temporary Society (1964), and popularized by American futurist Alvin Toffler (1928–2016) in his book Future Shock (1970).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /adˈhɒkɹəsi/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ædˈhɑkɹəsi/
- Hyphenation: ad‧hoc‧ra‧cy
adhocracy (plural adhocracies)
- (business, organizational theory) An organizational system designed to be flexible and responsive to the needs of the moment rather than excessively bureaucratic. [from 1964.]
1972, Viewpoints: Bulletin of the School of Education, Indiana University, volume 48, Bloomington, Ind.: School of Education, Indiana University, ISSN 0019-6835, page 71:
- The temporary system or ad hocracy can only be understood in the context of the preceding remarks on community, if it is to be anything more than a superficial technique for rearranging isolated individuals to perform new kinds of errands for the boss.
1987, H. W. Hendrick, “Human Factors in Organizational Design and Management”, in Peter A. Hancock, editor, Human Factors Psychology (Advances in Psychology; 57), Amsterdam: North-Holland, Elsevier Science Publishers, →ISBN, page 389:
- In summary, adhocracies are characterized by flexible, adaptive structures in which multidisciplinary teams of professionals are formed around specific problems or objectives. They tend to have constantly changing units (as opposed to the relatively stable functional departments of bureaucracies). New units are formed to deal with new problems or objectives. Old units either are dissolved as problems are solved, or change their makeup as different stages of the project are reached.
1995, Mats Alvesson, Management of Knowledge-intensive Companies (De Gruyter Studies in Organization; 61), Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, →ISBN, page 93:
- Adhocracy means that the different parts of an organization are temporarily assembled to meet the requirements and needs which apply at any particular point in time. […] [Henry] Mintzberg considers that adhocracy is characterized by an organic structure, a low degree of formalization, a high degree of horizontal work specialization based on formal training and specialist competence, a tendency to group specialized personnel in functional units to facilitate administration and personal development ("housekeeping purposes"), while employing them in small, market-based project groups in work organizations. Coordination and management are characterized by decentralized decision making to a relatively high degree, and by mutual adaptation at the project group level, rather than by control from above.
2006, Trevor Slack; Milena M. Parent, Understanding Sport Organizations: The Application of Organization Theory, 2nd edition, Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics, →ISBN, page 102:
- The main advantage of the adhocracy is that it can respond rapidly to change. It promotes creativity by bringing diverse groups of professionals together to work on specific projects. Adhocracies may be permanent structures, such as the lattice type of organizational design used at W.L. Gore & Associates (Rhodes, 1982), or they may be set up on a temporary basis.
2006, Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism, Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, →ISBN, page 221:
2015, Clay Spinuzzi, “Becoming All Edge”, in All Edge: Inside the New Workplace Networks, Chicago, Ill.; London: University of Chicago Press, →ISBN, page 3:
- These adhocracies are loose, spontaneously forming, often temporary arrangements that reach across an organization. Adhocracies are less stable than bureaucracies, but they aren't (necessarily) chaotic either, and in fact we're seeing some remarkably intricate, connected work structures emerge. […] Adhocracies ignore the old borders between organizations, between disciplines, between locations, between work and leisure and family.