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Micropolitics: A New Model of Status Hierarchies in Teams

Looking Back, Moving Forward: A Review of Group and Team-Based Research

ISBN: 978-1-78190-030-7, eISBN: 978-1-78190-031-4

Publication date: 19 September 2012


Purpose – In this chapter, we review the research on status hierarchies in groups and teams to assess the relative validity of two major models – the dominance and functionalist theories of status hierarchies. We find that these models cannot fully account for empirical evidence in the literature, and thus propose a new model of status hierarchies, Micropolitics.

Methodology/approach – We examine the relative validity of current major theories by reviewing the literature on status hierarchies in groups.

Findings – We find that, although most of the literature supports the functionalist theory of status hierarchies, this theory cannot explain some of the existing empirical evidence. Drawing on both functionalist and dominance perspectives, we propose a new theory of status, the Micropolitics model, to account for this evidence. Specifically, we propose that in the “micro” context of groups and teams, individuals attain status by convincing their group that they possess the skills and abilities needed to take charge – just as political candidates must convince voters they are the right people for the job.

Originality/value of paper – This paper proposes a new theory of status hierarchies in groups that may provide additional explanatory power for status researchers. It suggests that groups strive to attain meritocracy, but may put the wrong people in charge.



Anderson, C. and Kennedy, J.A. (2012), "Micropolitics: A New Model of Status Hierarchies in Teams", Neale, M.A. and Mannix, E.A. (Ed.) Looking Back, Moving Forward: A Review of Group and Team-Based Research (Research on Managing Groups and Teams, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 49-80.



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