Men at Work

Men at Work

Men at Work

Men at Work

Excerpt

TO GO beyond common sense discussion of human problems in industry, we need some tools of analysis. The social scientist uses words and numbers as such tools. The key words he uses he calls concepts: words pointing to the leading ideas of his theoretical system.

Theory, particularly in this stage of development, requires that the concepts we use be relatively few and that they be closely integrated. If we use a large number of concepts, our scheme becomes too complex to handle. If the concepts are not interrelated, we have no system. We simply have a set of words that refer to presumably important aspects of the subjects we are discussing. We can use the words to point to data, but we cannot use them as an aid in manipulating data.

For conceptual tools to be useful, they must be capable of application to concrete situations. The best way, then, of defining the concepts is to show how they concretely apply. At the same time, if we demonstrate the tools in terms of an actual case, there is the danger that we will become so preoccupied with the details of the case that we will fail to appreciate the general applicability of the concepts. To avoid this pitfall, I shall present the tools in their application to Joe Member, a hypothetical participant in the organization. We shall consider how he got to be the way he is and what he reacts to in his present situation.

In a book concerning groups and organizations, it may seem strange to start our discussion on this individual basis. We begin with the individual because he is the unit that feels, thinks, and acts, and whose actions, at least, can be observed. Even when we report what we see of a group in action, we are in effect dealing with a summary of the individual behavior we observe. However, even as we start with the individual, we want to know how he fits into the group, how collective action arises on a group basis, and how individuals and groups fit into the larger organization. From our examination of Joe, the individual, we will develop a scheme to apply to the analysis of groups and organizations.

ACTIVITIES, INTERACTIONS, AND SENTIMENTS

We will be concerned first with Joe's activities, interactions, and sentiments.

By activities, we refer to certain things that Joe does. For example, he works at his job and sometimes engages in horseplay. We may also . . .

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