Maciej Workiewicz is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Strategy Department at INSEAD. His research interests lie at the intersection of strategy and organizational design. In his research, he takes an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on strategic, organizational, and psychological research traditions. In his dissertation, he uses computational modelling, interviews and proprietary data sets to investigate the efficacy of the multi-authority form – a type of a hierarchy where subordinates report to multiple superiors. What interests Maciej are the mechanisms that allow this type of organization to outperform the alternatives (and when).
Are Two Heads Better than One: The Multi-authority Form and Organizational Adaptation
The multi-authority form is a type of organization where subordinates report to multiple superiors and superiors share authority over their subordinates. While those forms are quite common among modern organizations, research on such forms offers conflicting findings. These conflicting findings, in turn, suggest the need for greater understanding of the mechanisms through which these complex hierarchies operate. We create an explicit agent-based model where organizational adaptation is guided by a coupled search, with superiors integrating efforts of interdependent organizational units and their subordinates pursuing specialization within those units. We identify the specific mechanisms which make the multi-authority form the preferred option when specialization and integration are both important. The traditional hierarchy is, in turn, shown to be superior at integrating interdependent units, but at a cost of local specialization.