Triarchy (theory)

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Not to be confused with Triumvirate.

The theory of triarchy (from the Greek τρι- "three" and ἄρχω arch, "to rule") refers to Fairtlough's proposition that there are three fundamental ways of getting things done in organisations: hierarchy, heterarchy and responsible autonomy.[1])

The hegemony of hierarchy[edit]

Triarchy theory claims that our "addiction to hierarchy" drains the energy from collaborative projects and sometimes fails to recognise the input of able individuals whose contributions can be overlooked in a formal reporting structure.


Main article: Heterarchy

Heterarchy is divided, supported or dispersed rule where control shifts around depending on the project and the personality, skills, experience and enthusiasm of those who can make things happen.

Responsible autonomy[edit]

Main article: Responsible autonomy

This is illustrated by the autonomy of fund managers who tend to be left to themselves if their fund is performing well. Success attracts a larger fund and more clients. Autonomy is provided by the internal policies of the investment institution. Accountability is provided by the performance of the fund.


  1. ^ Fairtlough, Gerard (4 September 2005). The Three Ways of Getting Things Done. Triarchy Press. ISBN 0-9550081-0-7. 

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