The Practice of Management

By Peter F. Drucker | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 16
WHAT KIND OF STRUCTURE?

Organization theory and the "practical" manager--Activities analysis--Decision analysis--Relations analysis.

UNTIL well into the seventeenth century, surgery was performed not by doctors but by barbers who, untaught and unlettered, applied whatever tortures they had picked up during their apprenticeship. Doctors, observing a literal interpretation of their oath not to inflict bodily harm, were too "ethical" to cut and were not even supposed to watch. But the operation, if performed according to the rules, was presided over by a learned doctor who sat on a dais well above the struggle and read what the barber was supposed to be doing aloud from a Latin classic (which the barber, of course, did not understand). Needless to say, it was always the barber's fault if the patient died, and always the doctor's achievement if he survived. And the doctor got the bigger fee in either event.

There is some resemblance between the state of surgery four centuries ago and the state of organization theory until recently. There is no dearth of books in the field; indeed, organization theory is the main subject taught under the heading of "management" in many of our business schools. There is a great deal of importance and value in these books--just as there was a great deal of genuine value in the classical texts on surgery. But the practicing manager has only too often felt the way the barber must have felt. It is not that he, as a "practical man," resisted theory. Most managers, especially in the larger companies, have learned the hard way that performance depends upon proper organization. But the practicing

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