Adhocracy culture is a type of organizational culture where decisions are made organically and the focus is on getting the job done. The word adhocracy is a mash-up of two parts: ad hoc and cracy. Ad hoc is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as ‘concerned with a particular end or purpose’. The suffix ‘cracy’ means ‘to rule by’.

In an adhocracy organizational structure, leadership is decentralized, decisions are taken fairly quickly and things change often depending on current needs. There can be less emphasis on hierarchy, planning ahead, or formal procedures. The focus is on the project at hand.

Let’s inspect the adhocracy culture definition.

  1. What Is Adhocracy Culture?

  2. Advantages Of Adhocracy Culture 

  3. Disadvantages Of Adhocracy

  4. Adhocracy Organizational Culture Examples


What Is Adhocracy Culture?

Adhocracy culture companies have a participative worker culture where people work together to find the best solution to a problem. It’s also used more broadly as a term for any kind of participative or democratic decision-making structure. Let’s look at some features of adhocracy organizational structure:


  • There’s less emphasis on authority in most adhocracy organizational culture examples. Leadership is a shared responsibility, and everyone has the power to take action
  • Managing adhocracy culture companies means being a team leader and influencing many people to work toward a common goal
  • There’s a lot of flexibility. Adhocracy is a chosen management style for agile organizations


Adhocracy culture examples show they’re very different from traditional organizational structures that are more bureaucratic and top-down in approach. This has its advantages in the changing corporate landscape of today.

Advantages Of Adhocracy Culture 

In industries with a high level of unpredictability, adhocracy culture has its advantages. Here’s a breakdown of the key advantages of adhocracy culture:

  • Decisions are made fairly quickly according to immediate needs. It allows leaders to act on instinct in situations where extended analysis is of limited use
  • Organizations with adhocracy cultures are described as being flexible. They can easily change according to circumstances
  • Job specialization in an adhocracy is limited. This means that everyone has to know multiple things and they’re encouraged to have a variety of activities and functions
  • In an adhocracy culture, people can easily change their job functions. They have a higher level of control over their careers 
  • Adhocracy culture encourages freedom and creativity, because everyone may express opinions freely in the meetings
  • Working in this culture is informal, and there’s more emphasis on social interaction and collaboration

A look at adhocracy culture examples reveals that, for these reasons, adhocracy might be preferred over the more traditional models of bureaucracy and meritocracy.

Disadvantages Of Adhocracy

Like any other management culture, the adhocracy culture has its drawbacks as well. Here are a few to consider:

  • As organizations with adhocracy cultures are described as being low on the hierarchy, it’s reliant on effective communication between people. This can fail, causing important things to be missed or employees to duplicate the efforts of others
  • Adhocracy lacks processes or procedures. There may be some kinds of organizations less suited to such a style. Think of hospitals and manufacturing where safety is paramount
  • Without a hierarchical structure, it’s tough to solve interpersonal friction
  • Large corporations with boards and shareholders may not tolerate an organization without a formal hierarchy

Despite these drawbacks, many young organizations are opting for less rigid management styles. The good thing about adhocracy is that it can be adopted in a section of an organization or a project which would benefit from the approach. 

Adhocracy Organizational Culture Examples

There are many an example of adhocracy business in real life. Here are three well-known adhocracy culture examples for further study:

  1. Amazon

    Amazon has been called an adhocracy. The company puts innovation at the center of its business and it does so by decentralizing power. It embraces the fact that most experiments will not be successful. It has small, flat teams and a single-minded focus on customer experience. 

  2. Wikipedia 

    Wikipedia, which was established in 2001, has no hierarchy or bureaucracy. It’s run by the Wikimedia Foundation, which comprises just a few full-time paid staff members. The site is open to everyone and is also known for its commitment to free content. It’s an example of an adhocracy business at work.

  3. NASA 

    In its early years, NASA, or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, was an example of adhocracy. It was given only an end goal—of landing on the moon—and a timeframe in which to achieve it. It encouraged flexibility, adaptability and rapid decision-making that allowed it to succeed.


These adhocracy organizational culture examples show that it’s a style of management designed for an environment of rapid change. It’s geared for quick action and shifts in direction, with the understanding that not all efforts succeed but you miss 100% of shots you don’t take. Perhaps you are in an adhocracy and want to learn how best to advance. Harappa’s Navigating Workplaces can help you understand the dynamics of your environment better. Decoding the adhocracy culture definition will help you read the office politics and win with conflict resolution. These are core skills for professional success. Equip yourself today!


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