Superior-Subordinate Relationships

  • Rosemary Stewart


This is a subject on which a great deal has been written and innumerable studies conducted. Much of the earlier writing and research focused on first-line supervisors and their workers. In this chapter the focus will be primarily on relations between superiors and subordinates within management and between managers and those who are employed for their brains — sometimes called ‘knowledge workers’. These are the relationships that characterize most managers’ jobs today rather than the management of manual and routine office workers. This chapter aims to look briefly at the problems of the superior-subordinate relationship, to describe what research has revealed about it, and to discuss how the nature of the organization can help to determine the character of this relationship. It focuses upon individual relationships rather than upon that of the superior with a group of subordinates.


Social Distance Chief Executive Leadership Style Knowledge Worker Formal Authority 
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  3. Quoted in D. Katz and R. L. Kahn, The Social Psychology of Organizations (New York: John Wiley, 1964) p. 192.Google Scholar
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    In the UK, John Harvey-Jones, Making it Happen: Reflections on Leadership (London: Collins, 1988) was possibly the start of his new career as a management guru after being a successful chief executive of ICI.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Rosemary Stewart 1993

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  • Rosemary Stewart

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