Going Flat: Pursuit of a Democratic Organizational Structure

7 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017 Last revised: 27 Nov 2018

See all articles by Bidhan L. Parmar

Bidhan L. Parmar

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Julia Abell

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

A 2010 MBA graduate explored her options for full-time employment. She found Ethical Business Company (EBC) and was instantly intrigued. Not only did the company consult on many of the ethical issues that were important to her, but it also had a flat organizational structure. Although it was a riskier choice than going with a larger and more established firm, she was excited about being able to use her skills in direct interaction with clients and senior executives, rather than having them hidden beneath multiple layers of hierarchy. But after three weeks at EBC, she wonders if a flat structure is right for all companies and all employees or if there are certain companies and people who fit better in the hierarchy more than others.

Excerpt

UVA-OB-1041

Rev. Nov. 5, 2018

Going Flat: Pursuit of a Democratic Organizational Structure

Bella Wilfer graduated from the Darden Graduate School of Business in 2010, ready to become a principled leader in the world of practical affairs. Wilfer had pursued the consulting track while at Darden and had spent her summer internship at a large, prestigious management consulting firm. After being offered a full-time job and deciding that her summer employer was not a good fit, Wilfer had taken time in the fall of her second year to explore other options for full-time employment after graduation before accepting her offer.

In her off-grounds search, Wilfer had found Ethical Business Company (EBC) through an alumni connection and was instantly intrigued. Not only did the company consult on many of the ethical issues that were important to Wilfer, but it also had a flat organizational structure. When she compared it with the other large, hierarchical organizations, she decided she would have a greater impact earlier in her career and more control over it at EBC. Although it was a riskier choice than going with a larger and more established firm, Wilfer was excited about being able to use her skills in direct interaction with clients and senior executives, rather than having them hidden beneath multiple layers of hierarchy. After long consideration, she turned down the offer from her summer employer and signed with EBC.

Company History

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Keywords: organizational structure, flat organizational structure, hierarchy

Suggested Citation

Parmar, Bidhan L. and Abell, Julia, Going Flat: Pursuit of a Democratic Organizational Structure. Darden Case No. UVA-OB-1041. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2974819

Bidhan L. Parmar (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Julia Abell

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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