Why Managers Still Matter as Applied Organization (Design) Theory

Nicolai J. Foss*, Peter G. Klein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Core organization design issues have emerged in recent popular and influential discussions of managers and organizations, specifically in a genre of writing—the “bossless company narrative”—that declares that the classic managerial hierarchy is dead. In this article, we review our critical discussion of this genre in our book, Why Managers Still Matter, arguing that the narrative manifests bad empiricism and half-baked organization theory. However, we also raise the possibility of a charitable reading of the genre: it points to themes in organization design theory that are currently underdeveloped, notably with respect to, for example, the impact of organizational structure and control on employee motivations and the importance of contingencies such as the characteristics of knowledge for organization design.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Organization Design
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: 8 December 2022.


  • The bossless company
  • Hierarchy
  • Organization design

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