Understanding Organizations


About the author

Chris Grey is Reader in Organizational theory at the Judge institute of Management, University of Cambridge.and Fellow of Wolfson College. For about six years he was Editor-in-chief of Management Learning and is European Co-editor of the journal of Management Inquiry.

Book Review

Simply put, the book is an scholarly effort on understanding organizations and their different management styles. So, with an extremely difficult and boring task at hand; the author finds a easy way out. He somehow smartly manages to skip all the indecipherable jargon and takes a rather personal approach to the subject.

Chris Grey argues that, in a way, studying organizations is akin to really understanding every facet of human life; which is what makes it incredibly interesting. It's all about studying ideas, theories, models and values which shape organizations and in turn affect people. To quote him the author verbatim - `organizations matter because just about everything that we do occurs within an organization.'

The first few chapters take a look at the types of organizations which go a long way in defining people efficiency. Like, if it's a bureaucratic setup then it naturally saps energy and initiative. From describing the different types of organizations, Grey has delved deep into issues like - motivation, leadership, teambuilding, harassment at workplace, exploitation, unequal power relations and sabotage.

The book is simple but definitely not simplistic. The authors' style of writing is argumentative, provocative and irreverent. Some of the interesting chapters are - What is rationalism? Bureaucratic dysfunctionalism and Taylorism and What is it to be human?

Though, at times, the book gets a bit too heavy but then the author tries to simplify by drawing in references from different walks of life. While drawing parallels between life and organizations, he draws examples from the life of Hitler and Nazism, references to cricket, quotes from luminaries in various fields. In fact, each chapter begins with an apt quote and foretells what the chapter is going to elucidate. God and the Church, Kafka, Taylor - all are found in here. Geographically not bound to any location, he has brought in case studies from across the globe.

Definitely recommended for executives who're grappling to understand their own organizations!

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