Clan Control: Definition, Characteristics & Workplace Implications

Instructor: Sean Kennedy

Sean has 8 years experience as a supervisor and has an MBA with a concentration in marketing.

Clan control allows an organization to base its culture on values and beliefs, and to operate like a family. In this lesson, we will discuss what clan control is as well as other business organization techniques such as hierarchy, market, and adhocracy.

What Is Clan Control?

Have you ever worked for a small company where your co-workers felt more like family, and your work environment was based on trust? Or maybe you've always wanted to work in a place like that? Clan control refers to the values and beliefs of an organization that operates more like a family than a company.

In clan control, high-level management is seen as mentors rather than bosses. There are very few rules and policies put in place by the organization because it relies mostly on the trust of its employees. The company will have a strong focus on teamwork and a consensus of its employees.

Clan control has an open line of communication throughout the organization and allows employees to communicate with anyone in the organization. The definition of a clan is a family with the same common interests. A clan company includes the managers as the mentors who are there to nurture employees to perform. A disadvantage is that some employees may take advantage of the lack of structure and not perform at their full capacity.

Let's look at an example of a clan company in action. Imagine a small boutique that sells only quality scarves. The owner works there and hires employees she knows and can trust. It is often like a family because the workers all spend a lot of time together and work together as a group to make sure the boutique performs well. The owner acts as a mentor to help her employees with work as well as personal issues. The owner becomes more like a mother with a close relationship with her employees and allows them many freedoms because of the high level of trust.

Now that we know how clan control organizations run and operate, let's look at a few other management styles to compare and contrast.


A hierarchy is based around structure and control where communication starts from the top of the organization and works its way down. Management makes the rules, and lower-level employees have little say and take directions from upper-level employees. Hierarchy believes in structure and is based on efficiency. It is a formal work environment that prevents lower-level employees from being able to communicate ideas. A disadvantage is that the company could create better products or services if they took into account all of their employees' ideas.

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