Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Katherine K. Chen
When organizational survival and leader interests displace an organization's goals, an organization experiences oligarchy. In a 1911 study of the German Social Democratic Party and labor movement, Robert Michels discussed how bureaucratization, or large-scale organization, allows leaders' interests to dominate over the masses. Michels's iron law of oligarchy asserts that organizations are specialized. To pursue goals such as social change, individuals must collectively organize. As the collective grows, members designate leaders to take care of administrative and coordination needs. The resulting hierarchy gives leaders access to power and resources but also reduces members' influence and participation. To protect their positions, leaders Using ...