Views of Structure

  • Alec M. Lee
Part of the Studies in Management book series (STMA)


The principal elements of the structures evolved by early societies and civilisations—council-of-elders, chief, vizier and deputies—persisted under various names for the life of the Roman Empire. In Western Europe a reversion to more primitive forms may have followed the Roman collapse, but the principal elements of the historic structure emerged again during the last few centuries of the first millenium A.D.; and they were clearly in evidence during the mediaeval period. For example, the English administration of Henry II was characterised by a chief (Henry II), a vizier (the Chancellor, in the early years Thomas à Becket) and a council. These old and tried forms unmistakably, if tacitly and unconsciously, exhibited both the resolution of complexes into mutually exclusive subsystems and the fundamental hierarchical property of systems. The viewpoint which, applied with the force and sanctions of the power of the state, prevailed was that of the GCS—the pharaoh, king or chief—which was the progressive subdivision of the Organisation, its various purposes and functions into manageable but successively subordinate subsystems. The pharaoh divided up his total responsibility with a subordinate vizier and each in turn divided up his direct responsibility among several deputies, and so on.


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Notes and References

  1. W. Goerlitz, The German General Staff (W. Praeger, New York, 1953)Google Scholar
  2. G. A. Craig, The Politics of the Prussian Army (Galaxy Books, New York, 1964).Google Scholar
  3. L. Urwick and L. Gulick, Papers on the Science of Administration (Columbia University Press, 1937).Google Scholar
  4. L. Dale and L. Urwick, Staff in Organization (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1960) which is also a useful reference.Google Scholar
  5. H. Wilensky, Organisational Intelligence (Basic Books, New York, 1967) for example on pp. 110–13 and pp. 24–34. Subsequent references to this book are numerous.Google Scholar
  6. See also T. Burns and G. M. Stalker, The Management of Innovation (Tavistock Publications, 1961), especially pp. 150–4.Google Scholar
  7. J. Huizinga, The Waning of the Middle Ages (Pelican Books, 1955).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© A. M. Lee 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alec M. Lee

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