A manifesto on managers and hierarchy that bucks the trend of the lean, flat, leaderless organization

As business struggles to adapt to a rapidly changing world, managers are bombarded with a bewildering array of schemes for how to be a boss and make an organization tick. It’s tempting to be seduced by futurist fantasies where every company has the culture of a startup, and where employees in wacky, whimsical office settings, liberated from hierarchies and bosses that oppress them, are the foundation for breakthrough performance.

“Get real,” warn Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein. These fads ironically lead to micromanaging and, often, to disaster. Companies and societies, they show, need authority and hierarchy to coordinate work, including creative work. And, counterintuitively, Foss and Klein illustrate how the creative use of authority and hierarchy helps companies to be more agile and flexible, enabling educated, motivated people and teams to thrive.

And not a moment too soon: Foss and Klein provide evidence that global challenges such as the proliferation of artificial intelligence, economic disruption, empowered knowledge workers, and black swan events such as the pandemic actually make hierarchy and the job of the manager more important than ever.


“In Why Managers Matter, Nicolai Foss and Peter Klein have created a welcome counter to the voices who see management as the problem rather than the solution. Absent hierarchy, they teach, unfocused variety grows but lacks the value and competitive punch of focused activity. If you are struggling within the vaporous terrain of a ‘bossless’ company, get a copy of Why Managers Matter. Or, even better, give a copy to the person who should be the boss.” —Richard P. Rumelt, author of Good Strategy/Bad Strategy and The Crux
“Leaner and flatter are better, but bosses and hierarches still matter. We just have to get them right for our times in a world that is more diverse, more teamed, and more driven by empowered leadership up and down the hierarchy. Foss and Klein have compellingly made the case. Long live the principle-driven manager!” —Michael Useem, faculty director, McNulty Leadership Program, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and author of The Edge
“Managers matter, and this book shows why. Using careful research, solid evidence, and a thoughtful perspective on management and organizations, Foss and Klein persuasively demonstrate that managers—and management—will remain essential to the modern economy in the twenty-first century.” —Henry Chesbrough, University of California, Berkeley; Luiss University, Rome; and author of Open Innovation
“Readers will develop managerial mindsets to continually think about hierarchies and reexamine how hierarchies are organized and designed.” —Library Journal
Why Managers Matter does a comprehensive job of both describing the fallacies of the bossless company narrative and redeeming hierarchy.” —Strategy + Business
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Meet The Author: Nicolai J Foss

Nicolai J. Foss is a professor of strategy at the Copenhagen Business School, and one of the most cited European management scholars. He has authored many articles in the management research journals, and is a prolific contributor to policy and business debate as a newspaper columnist and contributor to practitioner-oriented magazines.

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Meet The Author: Peter G Klein

Peter G. Klein is W. W. Caruth Endowed Chair, Professor of Entrepreneurship, and Chair of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation at Baylor University. He was a Senior Economist at the US Council of Economic Advisers in the Clinton Administration and is author or editor of six books and numerous articles, chapters, and reviews.

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