Elliott Jaques (January 18, 1917 – March 8, 2003) was a Canadian psychoanalyst and organizational psychologist, known for developing the notion of requisite organization from his 'stratified systems theory', running counter to many others in the field of organizational development.
Born in Toronto, Ontario, Jaques was educated at University of Toronto and studied medicine at Johns Hopkins University before receiving his Ph.D in social relations from Harvard University. During World War II, he moved to England where he remained after the war, studying under British psychoanalyst Melanie Klein. He was a founding member, in 1946, of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations. In 1964, he founded the School of Social Sciences at Brunel University where he became a professor and head of the school, and of its Research Institute of Organisational Studies.
He died in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 2003.
He developed the concept of 'social systems as defense against unconscious anxiety' (Jaques, 1951) which shed light on the close relationship between organizational task (i.e. the main aim of an organization, such as to produce, cure, etc.) and unconscious group dynamics and how each can aid or distort the other.
Jaques' ideas are still very influential in the psychoanalytic study of organizations. He is most widely known for his concept of the "time-span of discretion," a measure of how much responsibility an employee has.
Jaques argued that the higher a person was in a hierarchy, the longer he could work to complete a task without supervision. The time span of a CEO of a major institution might be 15-20 years. This concept enabled him to describe a "requisite organization" as one in which each level in the hierarchy had its own distinctive time span. If an organization had too many levels, then their time spans overlapped. In this case managers at a higher level would interfere in the work of managers at a lower level. The process of delegation would be undermined leading to organizational dysfunction.
- The Changing Culture of a Factory: A Study of Authority and Participation in an Industrial Setting (London: Tavistock, 1951)
- Measurement Of Responsibility: A study of work, payment, and individual capacity (Tavistock, 1956) [Reprinted as ISBN 0-415-26443-X]
- Equitable Payment: A General Theory of Work, Differential Payment, and Individual Progress (London: Heinemann, 1961)
- Equitable Payment (London: Heinemann, 1963)
- Time-Span Handbook: the Use of Time-Span of Discretion to Measure the Level of Work in Employment Roles and to Arrange an Equitable Payment Structure (London, Heinemann, 1964)
- Product Analysis Pricing: A method for setting policies for the delegation of pricing decisions and the control of expense and profitability (Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Press, 1964) [with Wilfred Brown ]
- Glacier Project Papers (London: Heinemann Educational, 1965) [with Wilfred Brown ] ISBN 0-435-85102-0
- "Death and the Midlife Crisis", International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 1965.
- Work, creativity, and social justice (London: Heinemann Educational, 1970) ISBN 0-435-85479-8
- A General Theory of Bureaucracy (London: Heinemann Educational, 1976) ISBN 0-435-82473-2
- Health Services (London: Heinemann Educational, 1978) ISBN 0-435-82474-0
- Levels of Abstraction in Logic and Human Action: A theory of discontinuity in the structure of mathematical logic, psychological behaviour, and social organisation. (London: Heinemann Educational, 1978) with R.O. Gibson and D.J. Isaac [Editors]
- Executive Leadership: A Practical Guide to Managing Complexity (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1994) ISBN 0-631-19313-8 [with Stephen D. Clement and Ronnie Lessem]
- Human Capability: Study of Individual Potential and Its Application (London: Gower, 1994) ISBN 0-566-07652-7 [with Kathryn Cason]
- Requisite Organization: Total System for Effective Managerial Organization and Managerial Leadership for the 21st Century (London: Gower, 1997) ISBN 0-566-07940-2
- La Organizacion Requerida: Un Sistema Integrado Para Crear Organizaciones Eficaces y Aplicar el Liderazgo Gerencial en el Siglo XXI (Ediciones Granica, S.A., 2000) ISBN 950-641-303-7
- Social Power and the CEO: Leadership and Trust in a Sustainable Free Enterprise System (Greenwood, 2002) ISBN 1-56720-551-8
- The Life and Behavior of Living Organisms: A General Theory (Greenwood, 2002) ISBN 0-275-97501-0
- Psychology Today: Midlife
- Jaques, E., Time-span handbook: The use of time-span of discretion to measure the level of work in employment roles and to arrange an equitable payment structure (London: Heinemann, 1971)
- Elliott Jaques at www.requisite.org
- "Elliot Jaques Obituary". Daily Telegraph. 20 Mar 2003. Retrieved 2009-03-24.