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Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

An adhocracy, in a business context, is a corporate culture based on the ability to adapt quickly to changing conditions. 

Adhocracies are characterized by flexibility, employee empowerment and an emphasis on individual initiative. Although corporate levels exist in an adhocracy, they are less strictly defined than in more hierarchical environments. In a more general sense, adhocracy contrasts with bureaucracy, which is characterized by inflexibility and a rigid adherence to rules.

Critics of adhocracies argue that the lack of clearly defined leadership can lead to a chaotic environment in which responsibilities are not well understood and important tasks can remain uncompleted. Alternative corporate culture models include hierarchies, clans and market-based cultures.

Ad hoc is a Latin term meaning "for this," which translates to "for this special purpose" and also, by extension, improvised or impromptu.

This was last updated in February 2014

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