Hierarchy is an arrangement of stable subsystems.

This emanates from self-organization activities. Hierarchy becomes possible when subsystems stabilize into units with clear knowledge boundaries. Thus, hierarchies evolve abstractions and become partially decomposable. A hierarchy needs to balance the control it must apply to facilitate coordination while allowing enough autonomy for a subsystem to achieve its responsibilities and pursue its opportunities. With the wrong balance, a few types of dysfunctions are possible.rM3

  1. Donella H. Meadows and Diana Wright, Thinking in Systems: A Primer (White River Junction, Vt: Chelsea Green Pub, 2008). (See notes.)