Corporate Hierarchy

Definition of 'Corporate Hierarchy'


The arrangement of individuals within a corporation according to power, status and job function. In a public company, usually the board of directors will be at the top, followed by the CEO, who may also be the chairman of the board of directors as well as the president. Below the CEO will be other C-level executives, such as the CFO, CIO and COO, followed by upper management (vice-presidents/managers/directors), then the employees in each department who are further broken down into levels of experience and authority.

Investopedia explains 'Corporate Hierarchy'


Each company's hierarchy will vary from this general structure. Corporate hierarchy affects the employees' ability to advance within the company and also impacts corporate culture. Corporations can have hierarchies that are considered more vertical, where the power comes from the top down, or a more horizontal hierarchy, where power and responsibilty are more evenly spread across the firm.



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