Life in Organizations: Workplaces as People Experience Them

Life in Organizations: Workplaces as People Experience Them

Life in Organizations: Workplaces as People Experience Them

Life in Organizations: Workplaces as People Experience Them

Excerpt

Lives are lived in organizations. Few of us have the right to make decisions about how other people's organizational lives will be conducted, but all of us manage at least ourselves as we decide how to make a life out of the options presented to us by the organization. In that sense, we are all managers.

This book is about the human experiences of living in organizations and how to learn from them. We investigate the effects on people of being in various positions in organizations—effects not in any passive psychological sense of what is "done" to them but in an active sense of what becomes possible or impossible for them to do. The focus is on the potentials for behavior and action contained in various situations: the decisions people must make, the dilemmas that they must untangle or survive, the preoccupations and concerns that are likely to arise for them.

There are real people, real organizations, and real events represented here. Some of them are well-known: Henry Kissinger, Warren Bennis, the Planning Director of San Francisco and his dealings with Mayor Alioto, the Chairman of Continental Airlines, General Electric, the Lordstown auto plant strike, and the Gulf Oil political scandals. Others are more anonymous, but representative of the people and issues in familiar businesses, factories, offices, universities, and government agencies. A number of alternative workplaces trying to do things differently also appear.

There are tales of coping and tales of corruption. There is the excitement of newborn organizations and the trauma of dying organizations. We see leaders who are aware and those who are unaware; some who are power-sharing and some who are power-hungry; people who are "making it" and people who are not.

People's experiences are shaped by where they happen to be in the system at that moment and where the system happens to be. These situations are predictable and give rise to predictable kinds of issues and dilemmas. Organizations are internally dif-

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