Gauges of the extent of the managerial hierarchy drawn from occupational classifications appear to promise a comprehensive and precise overview of cross‐national comparative developments in work organisation. This paper considers the plausibility of the national historical shifts apparent from such gauges, and explores their comparative relation to alternative indications of work organisation, focusing on the experience of eleven advanced industrialised nations in the post‐war period. It shows that whilst it is clear that in the cases of some nations such gauges meaningfully express at least the comparative extent of managerial hierarchies, it is equally clear that for other nations they do not. The paper concludes that occupational classifications are no basis for inferences about comparative developments in the extent of managerial hierarchies, still less work organisation.
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