The Self-Reinforcing Nature of Social Hierarchy: Origins and Consequences of Power and Status

37 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2008  

Joseph C. Magee

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business; New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Adam D. Galinsky

Columbia Business School - Management

Date Written: November 9, 2008

Abstract

Hierarchy is such a defining feature of organizations that its forms and basic functions are often taken for granted in organizational research. In this chapter, we revisit some basic sociological and psychological elements of hierarchy to explain why hierarchy is so pervasive across groups and organizations. We argue that status and power are two distinct and important bases of hierarchical differentiation, and we integrate a number of different literatures to explain why status and power hierarchies tend to be self-reinforcing. Power, related to one's control over valued resources, transforms individuals psychologically such that they think and act in ways that lead to the acquisition and retention of power. Status, related to the respect one has in the eyes of others, generates expectations for behavior that favor those with a prior status advantage.

Suggested Citation

Magee, Joseph C. and Galinsky, Adam D., The Self-Reinforcing Nature of Social Hierarchy: Origins and Consequences of Power and Status (November 9, 2008). IACM 21st Annual Conference Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1298493 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1298493

Joseph Carl Magee (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

The Puck Building
295 Lafayette Street, Second Floor
New York, NY 10012
United States

Adam D. Galinsky

Columbia Business School - Management ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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