The Underlying Logic of the Office
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
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We create organizations because we need to get a job done--something we couldn't do alone--and join them because we're inspired by their missions (and our paycheck). But once we're inside, these organizations rarely feel inspirational. Instead, we're often baffled by what we encounter: clueless managers, a lack of clear objectives, a seeming disregard for data, and the vast gulf between HR proclamations and our experience in the cubicle.So where did it all go wrong?In THE ORG, Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan explain the tradeoffs that every organization faces, arguing that this everyday dysfunction is actually inherent to the very nature of orgs. THE ORG diagnoses the root causes of that malfunction, beginning with the economic logic of why organizations exist in the first place, then working its way up through the org's structure from the lowly cubicle to the CEO's office.
Woven throughout with fascinating case studies-including McDonald's, al Qaeda, the Baltimore City Police Department, Procter and Gamble, the island nation of Samoa, and Google--THE ORG reveals why the give-and-take nature of organizations, while infuriating, nonetheless provides the best way to get the job done.
- The purpose of meetings and why they will never go away
- Why even members of al Qaeda are required to submit Travel & Expense reports
- What managers are good for
- How the army and other orgs balance marching in lockstep with fostering innovation
- Why it's the hospital administration-not the heart surgeon-who is more likely to save your life
- That CEOs often spend over 80% of their time in meetings-and why that's exactly where they should be (and why they get paid so much)
Looking at life behind the red tape, THE ORG shows why the path from workshop to corporate behemoth is pockmarked with tradeoffs and competing incentives, but above all, demonstrates why organizations are central to human achievement.
Ray Fisman is the Lambert Family Professor of Social Enterprise and co-director of the Social Enterprise Program at the Columbia Business School. His is the author of Economic Gangsters with Ted Miguel.
Tim Sullivan is the editorial director of Harvard Business Review Press and has worked at Basic Books, Portfolio, and Princeton University Press, where he helped build one of the most successful academic economics lists in the world.
"A voice of ≠reasoned ≠analysis amid the airport bookstore barkers . . . breezy and approachable . . . the conclusions and insights presented in THE ORG are ones you can actually use. Less Hollywood blockbuster and more a moody independent film, THE ORG is incisive on how things actually are, while leaving readers to find the answers."‚e"Bloomberg Business Week
"...a compelling new book....The book offers telling insight on a topic that has ebbed and flowed across the world over the last 30 years, as governments of all stripes have set out to privatize state-owned enterprises and outsource services - what does the private sector do better than government, and what does it do worse?"‚e"Eduardo Porter, The New York Times
"An amiable guide, enjoyably wry without being jokey....[A]s an antidote to hokum, the authors' mission to help you "descend into better-informed cynicism"-to find the "least dysfunctional" of all possible dysfunctional orgs-is the kind of literary stock that pays greater dividends."‚e"The Wall Street Journal
"For many of us who are seeking a framework for understanding the confusing and rapidly evolving patterns of global supply chains and trade, THE ORG provides a wonderfully powerful and clear conceptual lens."
‚e"Michael Spence, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics and author of The Next Convergence
"THE ORG makes the world of work comprehensible to anyone who's been driven to cynicism by the dysfunction of nearly any organization. And with examples from McDonald's to the Methodist Church, it may even make life inside the org a little more fun."‚e"Richard Florida, author of Rise of the Creative Class, professor University of Toronto and NYU, Senior Editor The Atlantic
"THE ORG is that rare thing: an insightful management book that's also fun to read...Reading it is like listening in as a team of McKinsey consultants spars with Dilbert."‚e"Nathaniel Fick, CEO of the Center for a New American Security and author of One Bullet Away
"A levelheaded look at the pros of the Way Things Are Done, and a blueprint to improve it...playful writing and thoughtful analysis make this an intriguing read."‚e"Publishers Weekly
"Falls well into the required reading for MBAs set. I believe it will be THE required reading on the subject of organisational economics. . . . if you like Downton Abbey, then you are going to appreciate your time with The Org."‚e"Digitopoly.com