Edwin C. Nevis

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On October 11, 1925, Special Agent Edwin C. Shanahan, the first FBI agent killed in the line of duty, was murdered by Martin J. Durkin, a car thief who had previously wounded four police officers to avoid capture in Chicago, Illinois. Upon receiving word from underworld sources that Durkin was planning to hide a stolen automobile in a certain Chicago garage, Special Agent Shanahan and officers of the Chicago Police Department proceeded to that garage to wait for Durkin to appear. When Durkin drove the stolen car into the garage, Special Agent Shanahan, who was alone at the time, attempted to arrest him. However, Durkin swept an automatic pistol from the front seat of the car and shot the agent in the chest. Special Agent Shanahan returned fire, but Durkin escaped as his victim collapsed. Death was almost instantaneous. Durkin was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the murder and received an additional 15 years on stolen motor vehicle charges.

Special Agent Shanahan was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1898. He entered on duty with the Bureau in 1920. He was 27 years old when he died.

Life and career[edit]

Nevis was born in Brooklyn on May 20, 1926. He earned an undergraduate degree from City College of New York, a Master's from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. from Western Reserve University.[1]

Nevis taught at the MIT Sloan School of Management for almost 17 years; he directed the Program for Senior Executives. In 1956 he was one of the founders of the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland; he was its president until 1973 and created its Organizational & System Development and International OSD programs. In 1979 he and his wife, Sonia M. Nevis, founded the Gestalt International Study Center in Wellfleet, Massachusetts; he was its president until 2007.[1][2][3]

He died of lymphoma in Wellfleet on May 20, 2011, his 85th birthday.[1][2]

Theoretical contributions[edit]

In 1981, while teaching organization psychology in a management program in Shanghai, Nevis's observation of individuals there led him to conclude that their hierarchy of needs differed from that propounded by Abraham Maslow, which was based on American culture, and to formulate a Chinese hierarchy, Nevis's hierarchy of needs. He regarded the need hierarchies of different cultures as classifiable with reference to an individualism-collectivism dimension and an ego-social dimension.[4]

The Gestalt International Study Center is unusual in working with couples, groups, and organizations in an experiential and not solely therapeutic manner. Nevis characterized it as a "hands-on [approach whose] goal is to create tools that will enrich our participants' lives with greater self awareness, interpersonal and professional skills."[3]

Nevis's Organizational Consulting: A Gestalt Approach (1987) was his "signature book."[2]


In 2010, Nevis was awarded the Organization Development Network's Lifetime Achievement Award.[1][5]


  • Organizational Consulting: A Gestalt Approach. Gestalt Institute of Cleveland Press; New York: Gardner, 1987. ISBN 978-0-89876-124-5
  • Gestalt Therapy: Perspectives and Applications. Gestalt Institute of Cleveland Press; New York: Gardner, 1992. ISBN 978-0-89876-143-6
  • (with Anthony J DiBella) How Organizations Learn: An Integrated Strategy for Building Learning Capability. Jossey-Bass business & management series. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998. ISBN 978-0-7879-1107-2
  • (with Joan E. Lancourt and Helen G. Vassallo) Intentional Revolutions: A Seven-Point Strategy for Transforming Organizations Gestalt Institute of Cleveland publications. Jossey-Bass business & management series. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1996. ISBN 978-0-7879-0240-7
  • (with Joseph Melnick) Mending the World: Social Healing Interventions by Gestalt Practitioners Worldwide. Gestalt International Study Center publications. Xlibris, 2009. ISBN 978-1-4415-7524-1


  1. ^ a b c d Obituary: Edwin C. Nevis, The Cape Codder June 9, 2011, at The Wicked Local (Eastham, Massachusetts).
  2. ^ a b c Mary Ann Bragg, "Edwin Nevis refined theories on leadership," Cape Cod Times, June 8, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Bob Eason, "Edwin Nevis' Lifetime of Innovation," Gestalt International Study Center blog, June 2, 2011.
  4. ^ Edwin C. Nevis, "Cultural Assumptions, Productivity and Innovation: Understanding the United States through contrast with the People's Republic of China," Working paper, Alfred P. Sloan College of Management, 1982. Online at Ebooks and Texts Archive; Edwin C. Nevis, "Cultural Assumptions and Productivity: The United States and China," Sloan Management Review 24.3 (1983) 17–29; Edwin C. Nevis, "Using an American Perspective in Understanding Another Culture: Toward a Hierarchy of Needs for the People's Republic of China," Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 19.3 (1983) 249–64; Theodore D. Weinshall, Societal Culture and Management, De Gruyter studies in organization 44, Berlin/New York: De Gruyter, 1993, ISBN 978-3-11-012211-4, p. 292.
  5. ^ Press release, GISC, November 15, 2010 (pdf)

External links[edit]