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1. In politics, rule by a foreign power, even if masked by a puppet government. For example, Nazi Germany imposed heterarchy on France during World War II despite the presence of the Vichy government.

2. In human relations, governance in which no single participant has direct power over others, but in which any participant may come to possess such power. Heterarchy is very complicated and is marked by multiple, overlapping or even contradictory power structures. It may be contrasted with a hierarchy, but one may exist within the other.
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an ORGANIZATION without a HIERARCHY or leader. All members of the organization have equal authority and involvement in decision-making. Such an organizational form is difficult to sustain beyond the smallest organizations because of the need to coordinate the organization's activities. See WORKERS' COOPERATIVE.
Collins Dictionary of Business, 3rd ed. © 2002, 2005 C Pass, B Lowes, A Pendleton, L Chadwick, D O’Reilly and M Afferson
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I shall argue that in order to formulate these questions, Latour's Actor-Network-Theory is useful as well as consistent in spirit with the heterarchies, topologies and flows conceptualized above.
There are downsides to cybernetics, systems theory, and heterarchies. Save for Boyd's theories, the major criticism of cybernetics and systems theory is that they do not explicitly incorporate human agency or moral factors.
Hierarchies, argued Gilder, would give way to "'heterarchies' - systems in which each individual rules his own domain."
We remark that in this case we deal with a situation very different from the one described through the complementary heterarchies of mutual control, explicated in the cybernetic researches of H.
Given the above understanding of social context, we now consider in more detail social systems by contrasting two general models: hierarchies and heterarchies (e.g., Powers, 1973; Shaw & Turvey, 1981; Turvey, Shaw, & Mace, 1978).
In addition, there are also non-nested non-hierarchies, heterarchies, holons of several kinds, and so on.
They may even become heterarchies (MNEs having multiple units with headquarters spread throughout the world).
Karen Stephenson's argument for heterarchy is valid in principle, but it is lacking in the details of how one would create effective heterarchies. As she correctly points out, trust between members of a network, whether those are individuals, groups or entire organizations, is the key to whether or not they can collaborate.
Hedlund, G./Rolander, D., Actions in Heterarchies: New Approaches to Managing the MNC, in Bartlett, C.
Stephenson appears to be arguing that heterarchies are bad ("heterarchies are seedbeds of contagion--of ineptness, of disease and of fraud") and that "heterarchy is a good idea." Of course, any organizational form could be effective or ineffective, but Stephenson needs to more clearly articulate what makes for good and bad heterarchies.
Hedlund, G./Rolander, D., Action in Heterarchies: New Approaches to Managing the MNC, in Bartlett, C.
The new heterarchies won't work unless those hidden connectors can, in a sense, become the equivalent of that violin quartet, where leadership is so subtle as to be almost invisible; where empathy is the favored way of communicating; and where personal rivalry is subsumed in the cause of their joint creation.