André L. Delbecq Santa Clara University
As we approach the turn of the century the contemporary business organization is the institution that shapes much of our destiny. In modern societies it is the primary creator of wealth, provider of goods and services, and source of employment. The majority of people spend their day within its confines. It is here that community is or is not experienced and individual talents are engaged to benefit society.
There was a period in history when time spent within the business organization was "just a job" taking a portion of the day but from which we returned to other more primary groups such as neighborhood, village, and church. At the beginning of the century it was in these nonbusiness settings that our self-expression and self-realization occurred, and in which our moral character was forged. Now, as the information age matures, the employing organization takes up the greater psychological space, capturing our energies, creating networks (real and virtual) that inform and shape both behavior and character, and displacing the preeminence of other settings.
As business educators we spend much of our time portraying the positive side of modern business. We praise its potential for enhancing both the economic and social well being of its members and the society it serves. We talk about loosely coupled empowering organizations unleashing individual creativity. We laud the movement away from hierarchy toward transformative leadership. We speak of diversity within high-performance teams allowing for both individual expression and group creativity. In short, we portray moden business organizations as positive institutional forms creating