The Organization Man
Regarded as one of the most important sociological and business commentaries of modern times, The Organization Man developed the first thorough description of the impact of mass organization on American society. During the height of the Eisenhower administration, corporations appeared to provide a blissful answer to postwar life with the marketing of new technologies—...more
(originally posted 1/25/13)
I read this book fifty years ago now, in the summer of '62. It was to be read before starting my freshman year in college.
I don't think I got much out of it. Although I had had good marks in high school, I came from a small town in the Midwest. My classmates in college were mostly from big high schools in the east. ...more
Published June 2003 in WorldWIT.
Taking the Organization out of the Man
Sally's World, June 2003
By SALLY DUROS
There's a book I have to read. It's called The Organization Man. It was written in 1956 by William Whyte, and it's about time that I learned what the book says.
When I was a girl, I held a secret deep and true, and that was that somehow even though I was female I would grow up to be an "Organization Man." My dad was an ...more
However, the book is obsolete as anything but sociological history. The faithful organization man required a paternalistic corporation to make sense, and that pairing collapsed with the advent of deep international competition in the ...more
It was remarkably prescient in its warning against conformity and groupthink. Whyte advocated a healthy ecosystem of divergent personality types and thinking patterns in order to build more resilient companies/communities/societies. This is a very topical and thought-provoking book and I am enjoying it immensely.
Have to say, though, the modern intro is a silly introduction. Some writer (probably well know) at Fortune tells us "nice read but we don't have these problems any more"... Yikes. I don't think he's ever lived within the ...more
There are some great discussions on individuality, on the scientists in the corporations and academia, the group life and its consequences. Some times the book reads like an anti-utopia, sometimes it has more utopia-like tones, but in the end ...more
This book is about that phenomenon, and how in joining these organizations, people place part of the control of their lives into the hands of others.
Written back when large multi-national corporations were rare. It's interesting even to read about any alternative to joining large corporations.
There are still some great insights here, particularly about the tensions within the American ethos in general, as well as a prescient socio-spatial analysis of suburban neighborhoods near the end of the book that foreshadows Whyte's later work on public space. You can also see how his ideas, ...more
"Hell is no less hell for being antiseptic." (30-1)
"Potentially, they [private colleges] have a value far beyond their numbers as ...more
There is a copy of this book in the Smithsonian Museum of American History, in the transportation section. So much of our world has been defined by the postwar suburban mode of living -- and the tenuousness of highly leveraged families is laid out as a stark warning back in the 50's. I think that there are a number of folks still living in this world today ... though the organizations themselves have less and less use for them.
I wrote a longer review here:
Whyte was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania and died in New York City in 1999. An early graduate of St. Andrew's School in Middletown, Delaware, he graduated from Princeton University and then served in Marine Corps. In 1946 he joined Fortune magazine.