Discusses the movement away from hierarchical organizational structures towards flatter, heterarchical, structures which is reflected in the growing interest in distributed manufacturing control systems. Traditional hierarchical control systems are limited by the breadth, quantity and timeliness of information needed for their operation. Distributed, heterarchical, control systems overcome these hierarchical limitations but, concurrently, forfeit advantages of the hierarchy including analytically optimal loading patterns and centralized pristine data tracking. Classifies existing research into four categories and documents a progression of heterarchical control approaches to inject some of the advantages of the traditional hierarchy into new heterarchical frameworks. Concludes that neither hierarchical nor heterarchical control structures are ideal in their pure form and, hence, proposes a modified structure, called the quasi‐heterarchical control system, which is a combination of, and a compromise between, pure hierarchy and pure heterarchy.
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