A system of imposing order and control in which a small number of people can order around a somewhat larger number of people, who in turn can order around either other, specifically assigned small groups of people or a single group larger than this second group. In other words, people "higher up" on the pyramid can order those "beneath" them, either directly, indirectly, or whichever way happens to work best at the time, to do things.

In specific circumstances. this system can work well; if the people "on top" understand precisely what's going on and how to accomplish whatever goals are being pursued and those of "lower" rank are assigned to clear and appropriate jobs, wonderful things can happen. Unfortunately, such circumstances are rare, but that doesn't stop people from establishing or maintaining such power structures, especially without planning them with the above concerns in mind.

See also power trip.

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