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Adhocracy is a primarily structureless organization used to solve various problems. It is a type of organization that operates in opposite fashion to a bureaucracy. The term was first popularized in 1970 by Alvin Toffler, and has since become often used in the theory of management of organizations (particularly online organizations), further developed by academics such as Henry Mintzberg.
Robert H. Waterman, Jr. defined adhocracy as "any form of organization that cuts across normal bureaucratic lines to capture opportunities, solve problems, and get results". For Henry Mintzberg, an adhocracy is a complex and dynamic organizational form. It is different from bureaucracy; like Toffler, Mintzberg considers bureaucracy a thing of the past, and adhocracy one of the future. When done well, adhocracy can be very good at problem solving and innovations and thrives in a diverse environment. It requires sophisticated and often automated technical systems to develop and thrive.
Characteristics of an adhocracy
- highly organic[disambiguation needed] structure
- little formalization of behavior
- job specialization not necessarily based on formal training
- a tendency to group the specialists in functional units for housekeeping purposes but to deploy them in small, market-based project teams to do their work
- a reliance on liaison devices to encourage mutual adjustment within and between these teams
- low or no standardization of procedures
- roles not clearly defined
- selective decentralization
- work organization rests on specialized teams
- power-shifts to specialized teams
- horizontal job specialization
- high cost of communication (dramatically reduced in the networked age)
- culture based on non-bureaucratic work
All members of an organization have the authority within their areas of specialization, and in coordination with other members, to make decisions and to take actions affecting the future of the organization. There is an absence of hierarchy.
Types of Adhocracy
- administrative- "feature an autonomous operating core;usually in an institutionalized bureaucracy like a government department or standing agency" 
- operational-solves problems on behalf of its clients 
Alvin Toffler claimed in his book Future Shock that adhocracies will get more common and are likely to replace bureaucracy. He also wrote that they will most often come in form of a temporary structure, formed to resolve a given problem and dissolved afterwards. An example are cross-department task forces.
Downsides of adhocracies can include "half-baked actions", personnel problems stemming from organization's temporary nature, extremism in suggested or undertaken actions, and threats to democracy and legality rising from adhocracy's often low-key profile. To address those problems, researchers in adhocracy suggest a model merging adhocracy and bureaucracy, the bureau-adhocracy.
Use in fiction
In the radio play Das Unternehmen Der Wega (The Mission of the Vega) by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, the human inhabitants of Venus, all banished there from various regions of Earth for civil and political offenses, form and live under a peaceful adhocracy, to the frustration of delegates from an Earth faction who hope to gain their cooperation in a war brewing on Earth.
The asura in the fictional world of Tyria within the Guild Wars universe present this form of government, although the term is only used in out-of-game lore writings.
- Bureaucracy – The opposite of adhocracy
- Here Comes Everybody
- Technocracy – An alternative to bureaucracy and adhocracy
- Travica, Bob (1999). New organizational designs: information aspects. Stamford, Conn: Ablex Pub. Corp.
- Waterman Jr., Robert (1990). Adhocracy: The Power to Change. Knoxville, TN: Whittle Direct Books.
- Mintzberg, Henry (1989). Mintzberg on Management:inside our strange world of organizations. New York: Free Press.
- Dolan, Timothy (2010). "Revisiting Adhocracy: From rhetorical revisionism to smart mobs". Journal of Future Studies 2: 33–50.
- Bureaucracy and Adhocracy, by Evan Sycamnias