Organizational Traps: Leadership, Culture, Organizational Design

OUP Oxford
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Anyone who has spent time in an organization knows that dysfunctional behavior abounds. Conflict is frequently avoided or pushed underground rather than dealt with openly. At the same time, the same arguments often burst out again and again, almost verbatim. Turf battles continue for extended periods without resolution. People nod their heads in agreement in meetings, and then rush out of the room to voice complaints to sympathetic ears in private. Worst of all, when people are asked if things will ever change, they throw up their hands in despair. They feel like victims trapped in an asylum. And people often are trapped. But they are not trapped by some oppressive regime or organizational structure that has been imposed on them. They are not victims. In fact, people themselves are responsible for making the status quo so resistant to change. We are trapped by our own behavior. Researchers and practitioners have often reflected on these things, but there is a puzzle. On the one hand, there is substantial agreement that these traps are counterproductive to effective performance. On the other hand, there is almost no focus on how organizational traps can be prevented or reduced. This book argues that whatever theory is used to describe and understand such organizational traps should be used to design and implement interventions that reduce and prevent them. Argyris is one of the world's leading management scholars whose work has consistently shed light on orgainzational problems. This book is essential reading for MBAs, managers, and consultants.
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About the author

Chris Argyris is the James Conant Professor of Education and Organizational Behavior Emeritus at Harvard University. He has consulted to numerous private and governmental organizations. He has received many awards including thirteen honorary degrees and Lifetime's Contributions Awards from the Academy of Management, American Psychological Association, and American Society of Training Directors. His most recent books are, Flawed Advice and the Management Trap (OUP, 1999), and Reasons and Rationalizations (OUP, 2004). A chair professorship was established in 1994 at Yale University. He is a Director Emeritus of Monitor Group.
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Additional Information

Publisher
OUP Oxford
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Published on
Apr 29, 2010
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9780191615122
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Organizational Behavior
Business & Economics / Strategic Planning
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Flawed Advice and the Management Trap: How Managers Can Know When They're Getting Good Advice and When They're Not is the first book to show how and why so much of today's business advice is flawed, and how managers and executives can better evaluate advice given to their firms Practitioners and scholars agree that businesses in the coming millennium will be managed differently than firms of the 20th century. And getting there from here, according to today's best advice, will require creative change. In this pioneering work, Argyris, one of the world's leading organizational thinkers, reviews a wide array of business advice from the best and brightest thinkers and consultants and concludes that as appealing as their ideas may be, most of them are simply not workable. They are too full of abstract claims, logical gaps, and inconsistencies, to be useful. And ironically, even when their recommendations are implemented correctly, the result is often failure. Why do these gaps in logic exist, and how can they be more effectively discovered? Applying a disciplined critique to numerous representative examples of advice about leadership, learning, change, and employee commitment, Argyris shows readers how to be more critical of the advice they are given, how to learn new approaches for appraising employee performance, and how to generate an internal commitment to values and better strategy. In our ever expanding global market, innovative business advice is at a premium, and giving this advice has become a lucrative industry in and of itself. This book provides the critical lens necessary to evaluate which advice is best for your organization.
What is the purpose of social science and management research? Do scholars/researchers have a responsibility to generate insights and knowledge that are of practical (implementable) value and validity? We are told we live in turbulent and changing times, should this not provide an important opportunity for management researchers to provide understanding and guidance? Yet there is widespread concern about the efficacy of much research: These are some of the puzzles/pressing problems that Chris Argyris addresses in this short book. Argyris is one of the best known management scholars in the world - a leading light whose work has consistently addressed fundamental organizational questions, and who has provided some of the key concepts and building blocks of our understanding of organizational learning - single and double learning, theory in use, and espoused theory etc. In this book he questions many of the assumptions of organizational theory and research, and his investigation is not confined to academic analysis. He also scrutinizes that capacity for 'unproductive reasoning' (self-deception and rationalization) that is common amongst managers, consultants, and indeed more generally. As well as engaging with the work of leading organizational researchers (Sennett, Gabriel, Burgelman, Czarniawska, Grint, for example)he also ponders the work of the consultants, commentators, and accountants who endorsed Enron. Throughout his purpose is to affirm the goal and values of useful knowledge. His style/enquiry is direct but fair, challenging, if at times uncompromising. Drawing on his own wealth of experience of researching and working with organizations, this book will be a reference point for all concerned to develop useful knowledge and confront the defences and deceptions that are only too commonplace in the business and academic worlds.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • This instant classic explores how we can change our lives by changing our habits.
 
“With the days of pulling all-nighters and eating pizza at 2 a.m. (hopefully) behind your new grad, there’s no time like the present to get into a good routine.”—Real Simple
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Wall Street Journal • Financial Times
 
In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

With a new Afterword by the author
 
“Sharp, provocative, and useful.”—Jim Collins
 
“Few [books] become essential manuals for business and living. The Power of Habit is an exception. Charles Duhigg not only explains how habits are formed but how to kick bad ones and hang on to the good.”—Financial Times
 
“A flat-out great read.”—David Allen, bestselling author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
 
“You’ll never look at yourself, your organization, or your world quite the same way.”—Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author of Drive and A Whole New Mind
 
“Entertaining . . . enjoyable . . . fascinating . . . a serious look at the science of habit formation and change.”—The New York Times Book Review
Two essays and two commentaries on leadership in higher education in the 1980s are presented. In "Education Administrators and Professionals," Chris Argyris considers the decline of public confidence in institutions and professionals by elaborating the concepts of single-loop (detecting and correcting error without altering underlying values or policies) and double-loop (detection/correction accompanied by changed values or policies) learning. He proposes ways by which academic leaders may unfreeze the predisposition for the status quo that exists in single-loop learning in order to make way for double-loop detection and correction of error that involves the changing of underlying values and policies. In "Managing Universities in the 1980s," Richard M. Cyert focuses on the major problem facing academic administrators. He suggests that it is difficult for faculty to concentrate on maintaining excellence because of the struggle for institutional survival. Uncertainty will prevail with regard to how institutions will reduce their scales of operation, and university presidents will be involved to a greater degree than in the past with conflict resolution at a level of individual problems. Cyert offers strategies indicating how administrators may best manage the complex deescalation problems facing them. In "Leadership: An Attempt to Look at the Future," Gene I. Maeroff summarizes the essays and analyzes discussion by participants in the 1979 Symposium on Leadership, which was sponsored by the Institute for Educational Management. A preface by Stephen K. Bailey assesses the challenges to educational leadership in the past several decades and poses an optimistic argument for the 1980s. (SW)
The emphasis on organizational change in the corporate life of recent years-including job redesign, autonomous groups, high performance work systems, and the redesign of control systems-owes a great deal to the pioneering work of Chris Argyris. This book examines how individuals in organizations can become more effective, in turn making organizations more effective. It explores the conventional pyramidal structure of organizations, in which there is top-down control by managers over workers, and examines their negative consequences. These include organizational injustice and eventually irrational decision-making. Argyris also discusses the characteristic learning system of the modern organization, which he describes as -single-loop- in character. This system, he argues, is only adequeate enough to permit the organization to implement existing policies. It does not permit the more difficult and comprehensive task of questioning underlying goals and assumptions, which he terms -doubt loop- learning. In this kind of learning, the organization is able to confront the more difficult problems that affect organizations in a time of transition. In his new introduction, Argyris reviews the strengths and limitations of the argument advanced in Integrating the Individual and the Organization. He describes why the pyramidal structure endures, and why creating a self-learning organization is an even more challenging task than he has imagined. The book will be of interest to professionals with a long-standing interest in organizational development as well as those just entering the field, managers confronting the challenge of organization change, and researchers in organizational behavior and theory.
So vast has the international commitment of our government grown in the last decades, and with this the corresponding increase in the staff engaged in foreign affairs activities, that it is no longer possible to find the channels for personal communications we once had. Yet undoubtedly today’s officers are engaged in a wider variety of experiences than ever before in our history.

This series of Occasional Papers produced by the Center for International Systems Research was designed to provide a forum for the expression of significant ideas by foreign affairs professionals, whereby they may go beyond the language of everyday reporting, may speculate or conjecture in the field of their specialization. In particular, these papers will provide an opportunity to assess the impact of contemporary systems research upon the operations of the foreign affairs community. This series offers an opportunity to communicate new ideas and evaluate old. At the same time, students of foreign relations, and others, have the opportunity to listen in, as it were, to a record which is neither an official report nor a formal journal, but a highly individualistic, personal narrative.

Because these Occasional Papers are indeed personal by nature, and are so meant to be, they do not represent the official position of the Department of State. They are considered reactions of highly skilled professionals to professional problems, situations, events that are of concern to them.

At the time of publication, CHRIS ARGYRIS was professor of organizational behavior and chairman of the Department of Administrative Sciences at Yale University. He received an A.B. from Clark University, an M.A. from Kansas University, and the Ph.D. from Cornell University.

Flawed Advice and the Management Trap: How Managers Can Know When They're Getting Good Advice and When They're Not is the first book to show how and why so much of today's business advice is flawed, and how managers and executives can better evaluate advice given to their firms Practitioners and scholars agree that businesses in the coming millennium will be managed differently than firms of the 20th century. And getting there from here, according to today's best advice, will require creative change. In this pioneering work, Argyris, one of the world's leading organizational thinkers, reviews a wide array of business advice from the best and brightest thinkers and consultants and concludes that as appealing as their ideas may be, most of them are simply not workable. They are too full of abstract claims, logical gaps, and inconsistencies, to be useful. And ironically, even when their recommendations are implemented correctly, the result is often failure. Why do these gaps in logic exist, and how can they be more effectively discovered? Applying a disciplined critique to numerous representative examples of advice about leadership, learning, change, and employee commitment, Argyris shows readers how to be more critical of the advice they are given, how to learn new approaches for appraising employee performance, and how to generate an internal commitment to values and better strategy. In our ever expanding global market, innovative business advice is at a premium, and giving this advice has become a lucrative industry in and of itself. This book provides the critical lens necessary to evaluate which advice is best for your organization.
Flawed Advice and the Management Trap: How Managers Can Know When They're Getting Good Advice and When They're Not is the first book to show how and why so much of today's business advice is flawed, and how managers and executives can better evaluate advice given to their firms Practitioners and scholars agree that businesses in the coming millennium will be managed differently than firms of the 20th century. And getting there from here, according to today's best advice, will require creative change. In this pioneering work, Argyris, one of the world's leading organizational thinkers, reviews a wide array of business advice from the best and brightest thinkers and consultants and concludes that as appealing as their ideas may be, most of them are simply not workable. They are too full of abstract claims, logical gaps, and inconsistencies, to be useful. And ironically, even when their recommendations are implemented correctly, the result is often failure. Why do these gaps in logic exist, and how can they be more effectively discovered? Applying a disciplined critique to numerous representative examples of advice about leadership, learning, change, and employee commitment, Argyris shows readers how to be more critical of the advice they are given, how to learn new approaches for appraising employee performance, and how to generate an internal commitment to values and better strategy. In our ever expanding global market, innovative business advice is at a premium, and giving this advice has become a lucrative industry in and of itself. This book provides the critical lens necessary to evaluate which advice is best for your organization.
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