Angelic Organization: Hierarchy and the Tyranny of Heaven

Martin Parker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


This paper suggests that one of the first influential legitimations of hierarchy comes from the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius, about 1500 years ago. Despite the fact that he was ordering angels, he suggests both ontological and political reasons for accepting that organization must equal hierarchy. This is an assumption that is rarely contested even today, and the idea of hierarchy is central to theories of organization, and justifications of managerialism. However, angels have been mutable creatures, and I employ some of their various incarnations in order to open up this 5th century common sense. I conclude by suggesting that angelic obedience should be treated with suspicion, and that other sorts of angels, particularly the fallen ones, might lead us away from the tyranny of hierarchy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1281-1299
Number of pages19
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2009


  • Alternatives
  • Angels
  • Hierarchy
  • History
  • Pseudo-Dionysius

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