The Organization Man
Cover of the first edition
|Author||William H. Whyte|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
Background and influence
While employed by Fortune Magazine, Whyte did extensive interviews with the CEOs of major American corporations such as General Electric and Ford. A central tenet of the book is that average Americans subscribed to a collectivist ethic rather than to the prevailing notion of rugged individualism. A key point made was that people became convinced that organizations and groups could make better decisions than individuals, and thus serving an organization became logically preferable to advancing one's individual creativity. The author felt this was counterfactual and listed a number of examples of how individual work and creativity can produce better outcomes than collectivist processes. He observed that this system led to risk-averse executives who faced no consequences and could expect jobs for life as long as they made no egregious missteps.
Whyte's book led to deeper examinations of the concept of "commitment" and "loyalty" within corporations. Whyte's book matched the fictional best seller of the period, The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit (1955) by Sloan Wilson in inspiring criticism that those Americans inspired to win World War 2 returned to an empty suburban life, conformity, and the pursuit of the dollar. Marxist theorist Guy Debord discusses Whyte's observations about advanced capitalism in The Society of the Spectacle (1967).
- Whyte, William H. (1956). The Organization Man. Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-0-671-54330-3
- Editors Of Perseus Publishing (2003). The best business books ever: the 100 most influential management books you'll never have time to read. Perseus Books Group, ISBN 978-0-7382-0849-7
- Mills, C. Wright (December 9, 1956). Crawling To the Top. New York Times
- Randall, Donna M. (1987). Commitment and the Organization: The Organization Man Revisited. The Academy of Management Review
- Debord, Guy (1973). La Société du spectacle. Black & Red
- The Organization Mad, a contemporary parody