An Existential-Systems Approach to Managing Organizations

An Existential-Systems Approach to Managing Organizations

An Existential-Systems Approach to Managing Organizations

An Existential-Systems Approach to Managing Organizations


At a time of corporate downsizing and bone-crushing international competition, how can executives reconcile their individual personalities and human needs with the equally compelling needs of the hard-driving organization? It is an existential dilemma, say Joe and Louise Kelly, and one with critical implications, not only for executives but for their organizations as well. The Kellys, by no means blithe theorists, take a hard look at this hard-edged problem by positing a three-pronged model for analysis based upon structure, process, and values. They synthesize these elements under an overarching concept of existentialism, in which the emphasis is on a search for meaning. And with that, they provide a clear-headed look at the field of organizational behavior--its contributions to our understanding of how organizations work, but also its failures and, indeed, its frequent self-deceptions. A well-written, vigorous, far-ranging examination, not only for executives who need the kind of help the Kellys offer in their daily combat on the job, but also for their colleagues in the academic community who have their own organizational problems to deal with.


An Existential-Systems Approach to Managing Organizations is directed towards professional managers and students of management. It is intended as a lively, contemporary book about both living in and managing organizations as we approach the year 2000.

Organizational behavior (OB) is the study of people in organizations. This field of enquiry is made more complex by dramatic changes in the North American economy, which have affected large numbers of people.

Many have had to leave their jobs; others have stayed. All have been changed forever by the red-hot, searing edge of change. Meanwhile, businesses in Russia, China, and Eastern Europe have moved towards the entrepreneurial model. These dramatic changes and their human consequences are the focus of this book.

The overarching theme of this book, which develops ideas and materials presented in an earlier work by Joe Kelly, entitled Organizational Behavior (Irwin, 1980), is total quality management, but with a difference from traditional texts.

Perhaps a word is in order regarding the perspective and posture of this book. It reflects a movement away from the academic-purist position, where the sole concern is with theoretically significant empirical research, to a position which recognizes that organizational behavior is a crossroads subject where traffic mainly from behavioral science, computer technology, and economics coalesces with the ideas streaming out of organizational practice. Principles and practices emerging from Apple, Chrysler, General Electric, Xerox, and Microsoft have turned out in the last decade to be more relevant than the theories and laboratory data coming from academia. The curious thing is that executives, without using the same esoteric con-

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