Many recognize and cite the value and function of hierarchical structure and processes in both natural and human systems. First seen only in social systems (thus the misleading etymology of the word), this phenomenon was also discovered to be significant in natural systems from cosmology to biology. Here are several papers that try to “test” and not just assume that hierarchies exist. They proceed across many scales of size and particular composition and so the papers build an abstract theory of the function of hierarchy across many categories and taxonomies of local manifestations, such as the biological, or the astronomical. It is hoped that the lessons learned about the utility of hierarchical patterns from natural systems may someday be usefully applied to business, political, and other social hierarchies as well as to our stewardship of the hierarchies in nature.
Metacrescence – Origins of Hierarchical Levels: An ‘Emergent’ Evolutionary Process Based on Systems Concepts (1978b, Troncale)
Hierarchy Theory VII. Systems Allometry II. Further Tests of Quantitative Correlations Across Levels of Systems Organization (1987a, Troncale)
What Emprical Testing of Hierarchies & Systems Allometry Says About General Systems Models of Evolution/Emergence (1990b, Troncale)
Here is one of the first attempts to empirically demonstrate hierarchies as real and natural and not just due to the perception of humans….
Qualitative and Quantitative Research on Hierarchies as a Case Study of General Systems Research (1993b, Troncale)