- A system or organization.
- Elements of the organization are unranked (non-hierarchical) -- or possess the potential to be ranked a number of different ways.
- quote The concept of heterarchy was first employed in a modern context by Warren McCulloch in 1945. As Carole L. Crumley has summarised, "[h]e examined alternative cognitive structure(s), the collective organization of which he termed heterarchy. He demonstrated that the human brain, while reasonably orderly was not organized hierarchically. This understanding revolutionized the neural study of the brain and solved major problems in the fields of artificial intelligence and computer design.
In a heterarchy, different types of rules and organizational structures are combined. They may include, for example, top-down hierarchies and bottom-up participation (both of which are vertical), and peer-to-peer dynamics (which are horizontal).
In a heterarchy, people can achieve socially mindful autonomy by combining multiple types of governance in the same system.
Heterarchy brings together top-down and bottom-up (both hierarchical), and peer-to-peer dynamics. One can think of it as reconciling distributed networks and hierarchies.