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The Organization Man

By William H. Whyte. Foreword by Joseph Nocera

Publication Year: 2013

Regarded as one of the most important sociological and business commentaries of modern times, The Organization Man developed the first thorough description of the impact of mass organization on American society. During the height of the Eisenhower administration, corporations appeared to provide a blissful answer to postwar life with the marketing of new technologies—television, affordable cars, space travel, fast food—and lifestyles, such as carefully planned suburban communities centered around the nuclear family. William H. Whyte found this phenomenon alarming.

As an editor for Fortune magazine, Whyte was well placed to observe corporate America; it became clear to him that the American belief in the perfectibility of society was shifting from one of individual initiative to one that could be achieved at the expense of the individual. With its clear analysis of contemporary working and living arrangements, The Organization Man rapidly achieved bestseller status.

Since the time of the book's original publication, the American workplace has undergone massive changes. In the 1990s, the rule of large corporations seemed less relevant as small entrepreneurs made fortunes from new technologies, in the process bucking old corporate trends. In fact this "new economy" appeared to have doomed Whyte's original analysis as an artifact from a bygone day. But the recent collapse of so many startup businesses, gigantic mergers of international conglomerates, and the reality of economic globalization make The Organization Man all the more essential as background for understanding today's global market. This edition contains a new foreword by noted journalist and author Joseph Nocera. In an afterword Jenny Bell Whyte describes how The Organization Man was written.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press


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p. 1-1

Title, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xvi

SOMETIME IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE PUBLICATION OF WILLIAM H.Whyte's The Organization Man, the DuPont Corporation produced a print advertisement with the above headline. In the upper right-hand corner of the ad was a classic 195os-era sketch of a handful of, well, organization men, dressed in look-alike suits and ties and fedoras, striding purposefully toward some unseen office. In the bottom left-hand corner sat a solitary figure, ...

PART I: The Ideology of Organization Man

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CHAPTER 1 Introduction

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pp. 3-14

THIS BOOK IS ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION MAN. IF THE TERM IS VAGUE, it is because I can think of no other way to describe the people I am talking about. They are not the workers, nor are they the whitecollar people in the usual, clerk sense of the word. These people only work for The Organization. The ones I am talking about ...

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CHAPTER 2 The Decline of the Protestant Ethic

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pp. 14-22

LET US GO BACK A MOMENT TO THE TURN OF THE CENTURY. IF WE PICK up the Protestant Ethic as it was then expressed we will find it apparently in full flower. We will also find, however, an ethic that already had been strained by reality. The country had changed. ...

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CHAPTER 3 Scientism

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pp. 22-32

JUST HOW THESE CURRENTS OF REFORMS CONGEALED INTO AN ORTHO• doxy is a problem in intellectual history I must duck. Trying to weigh whose ideas were most responsible is in any event somewhat fruitless, for it is what people want to believe that is important, and those whose ideas they so frequently misinterpret should ...

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CHAPTER 4 Belongingness

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pp. 32-46

WHAT KIND OF SOCIETY IS TO BE ENGINEERED? SOME CRITICS OF SOCIAL engineering are sure that what is being cooked up for us is a socialistic paradise, a radically new, if not brave, world, alien to every tradition of man. This is wrong. Lump together the social engineers' prescriptions for the new society and you find they are ...

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CHAPTER 5 Togetherness

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pp. 46-59

IT IS THE ORGANIZATION MAN, THEN, MORE THAN THE WORKER WHOM he wishes to serve, who most urgently wants to belong. His quest takes many forms; in this chapter I would like to examine the most concrete one: his growing preoccupation with group work. The group that he is trying to immerse himself in is not merely the ...

PART II: The Training of Organization Man

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CHAPTER 6 A Generation of Bureaucrats

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pp. 63-78

WHEN I WAS A COLLEGE SENIOR IN 1939, WE USED TO SING A PLAINTIVE song about going out into the "cold, cold world." It wasn't really so very cold then, but we did enjoy meditating on the fraughtness of it all. It was a big break we were facing, we told ourselves, and those of us who were going to try our luck in the commercial world ...

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CHAPTER 7 The Practical Curriculum

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pp. 78-100

How DID HE GET THAT WAY? HIS ELDERS TAUGHT HIM TO BE THAT WAY. In this chapter I am going to take up the content of his education and argue that a large part of the U.S. educational system is preparing people badly for the organization society-precisely because it is trying so very hard to do it. My charge rests on the premise ...

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CHAPTER 8 Business Influence on Education

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pp. 101-109

IN THIS CHAPTER I WOULD LIKE TO BRING INTO SHARPER FOCUS THE part business is playing in these educational changes. Business has been only one of many influences, but it is going to become a great deal more important in the years ahead. Simply by virtue of the changing economics of university financing, the organization man ...

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CHAPTER 9 The Pipe Line

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pp. 109-128

BEFORE WE FOLLOW THE SENIOR INTO THE CORPORATION'S POSTGRADUATE training schools, we must pause a moment longer on the campus. For it is here, in one important respect, that these new schools are being shaped. They are a projection of what the senior wants, and more than corporations care to admit, what the senior wants these ...

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CHAPTER 10 The "Well-Rounded" Man

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pp. 129-137

LET'S EXAMINE FIRST THE MODEL AS YOUNGER MEN SEE HIM. THEY ARE in remarkable agreement on the matter. There are dissenters, precious few that they may be, and no generalization can do justice to all the different shadings in the majority's view. On the fundamental premise of the new model executive, however, the young ...

PART III: The Neuroses of Organization Man

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CHAPTER 11 The Executive: Non-Well-Rounded Man

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pp. 141-150

LISTENING TOO LONG TO TRAINEES AND PERSONNEL MEN DESCRIBE THE future is likely to unnerve one into assuming that the complete bureaucrat is just about ready to take over. Now whether or not these people are riding the waves of the future or wallowing in some kind of trough is a matter of pure prophecy, and later I will ...

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CHAPTER 12 The Executive Ego

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pp. 150-156

IN THIS ABSORPTION IN WORK, MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE, LIES THE SEAT of the executive neurosis. From Dodsworth on, the figure of the businessman self-alienated from the wider life has been held up to Americans as a somewhat tragic figure. Why, when the purpose of our vast productive apparatus is the release of man from toil, do the ...

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CHAPTER 13 Checkers

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pp. 156-167

Now, FINALLY, THE MATTER OF AMBITION-FOR HERE IS WHERE WE see most clearly the collision between the Social Ethic and the needs of the organization man. So far I have been arguing that the older executive is .far more suspicious of organization than the professional manager who is the model of the next generation of management. I have further argued that this is not simply a difference in ...

PART IV: The Testing of Organization Man

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CHAPTER 14 How Good an Organization Man Are You?

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pp. 171-181

IN THE FOREGOING CHAPTERS, I HAVE ARGUED THAT THE DOMINANT ideological drift in organization life is toward ( 1) idolatry of the system and ( 2) the misuse of science to achieve this. I would now like to go into some detail on one manifestation of this drift: the mass testing of "personality." These curious inquisitions into the ...

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CHAPTER 15 The Tests of Conformity

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pp. 182-201

IF PERSONALITY TESTS ARE THE VOICE OF THE ORGANIZATION IT IS NOT that testers mean them to be. A few are lackeys, but the great majority cherish the professional's neutrality; they try hard to be objective, and "value judgments" they shun. And this is the trouble. Not ...

PART V: The Organization Scientist

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CHAPTER 16 The Fight against Genius

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pp. 205-217

SUPPOSE FOR TilE MOMENT THAT YOU WERE GIVEN THIS MENTAL EX• ercise: without knowing anything about how scientists work today, you were to imagine what would happen if the Social Ethic were applied to science as it has been in the rest of organization life. The chances are that you would imagine, among other things, that: ( 1) scientists would now concentrate on the practical application of ...

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CHAPTER 17 The Bureaucratization of the Scientist

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pp. 217-230

LET'S TURN NOW FROM THE CORPORATION TO ACADEMIA, FOR HERE WE can more clearly see the root of the problem. If the academic scientist is seduced, it cannot be explained away as Babbitt versus the intellectual, the pressures of commercialism, or the managers' misunderstanding of science. Nor can it be blamed on want of talent; ...

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CHAPTER 18 The Foundations and Projectism

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pp. 230-240

THE BUREAUCRATIZATION CAN BE REVERSED. FOR THE MAN WHO WANTS to escape the mesh of organization, to ask his own questions, and to ask them for the sheer hell of it, the foundations are the last best hope. Alone of our big institutions, they do not have to yield to the pressures of immediacy or the importunings of the balance sheet. ...

PART VI: The Organization Man in Fiction

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CHAPTER 19 Love That System

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pp. 243-248

... A middle-management executive is in a spot of trouble. He finds that the small branch plant he's helping to run is very likely to blow up. There is a way to save it: if he presses a certain button the explosion will be averted. Unfortunately, however, just as he's about to press a button his boss heaves into view. The boss is a scoundrel and a fool, and at this moment he's so scared he is almost ...

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CHAPTER 20 Society As Hero

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pp. 248-263

I HAVE BEEN TALKING OF ONE BOOK AND ONE DECADE. NOW I WOULD like to broaden the angle of view, for the The Caine Mutiny is only one more step in a development that has been going on for a long time. Let me at once concede that much of what seems contemporary in popular fiction is fairly timeless. Black has always been black and white has always been white, with few shades of gray in between; coincidence outrageous and the endings happy, or at least ...

PART VII: The New Suburbia: Organization Man At Home

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CHAPTER 21 The Transients

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pp. 267-280

I NOW TURN TO ORGANIZATION MAN AT HOME-AND, I HOPE, SOME clues as to where he is going. In these next chapters I am going to examine him in the communities that have become his dormitoriesthe great package suburbs that have sprung up outside our cities since the war. They are fascinating institutions ...

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CHAPTER 22 The New Roots

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pp. 280-298

TO FIND WHERE THE MOBILITY OF ORGANIZATION LIFE IS LEADING, THE new package suburbs may be the best place of all to look. For they are not merely great conglomerations of mass housing. They are a new social institution, and while the variations in them are many, wherever one goes-the courts of Park Forest, the patios of Park ...

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CHAPTER 23 Classlessness in Suburbia

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pp. 298-312

As FAR AS SOCIAL VALUES ARE CONCERNED, SUBURBIA IS THE ULTIMATE expression of the interchangeability so sought by organization. It is classless, or, at least, its people want it to be. As in The Organization, so in its dormitories there has been a great broadening of the middle, and a sort of "declassification" of people from the older criteria ...

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CHAPTER 24 Inconspicuous Consumption

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pp. 312-329

IN DEFINING THE GOOD LIFE, THE SUBURBANITES HAVE TO GET DOWN TO cases, and when they do these social pressures can become highly visible. On the one hand, suburbanites have a strong impulse toward egalitarianism; on the other, however, they have an equally strong impulse to upgrade themselves. Somewhere in the middle ...

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CHAPTER 25 The Web of Friendship

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pp. 330-349

IN SUCH CHARACfERISTICS AS BUDGETISM THE ORGANIZATION MAN IS SO similar from suburb to suburb that it is easy to fall into the trap of seeing a "mass society." On the surface the new suburbia does look like a vast sea of homogeneity, but actually it is a congregation of small neighborly cells-and they make the national trends as much as they reflect them. ...

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CHAPTER 26 The Outgoing Life

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pp. 350-365

THE EFFECI' THIS WEB OF FRIENDSIDP HAS ON THE INDIVIDUAL IS A problem suburbanites think about a great deal. Like them, I am going to deal with the good aspects first, the adverse second. But the two are really inseparable, and it is this duality I wish to underscore. The Social Ethic denies it, and there is the problem. ...

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CHAPTER 27 The Church of Suburbia

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pp. 365-381

THIS BRINGS US TO A QUESTION. IS THE ORGANIZATION TRANSIENTS' emphasis on the social a passing phase in their lives-a convenient accommodation to current reality? In the early stages of their life in suburbia, patently, the sheer fact of living so close together is bound to make them put a heavy premium on fellowship, and to a degree they are preoccupied with other people because they have to be. Yet there is more than expediency to this impulse. There is internal conviction as well, and ...

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CHAPTER 28 The Organization Children

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pp. 382-392

THE ORGANIZATION MAN'S EMPHASIS ON THE GROUP, I HAVE BEEN maintaining, is not a temporary phenomenon dictated by external necessity; it is a response to what he feels is a moral imperative, and more and more he is openly articulating it. I have looked at the church in this perspective; now I would like to tum to the schools. ...

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CHAPTER 29 Conclusion

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pp. 392-404

HERE, FINALLY, IS THE APOTHEOSIS OF THE SOCIAL ETHIC. SOME MIGHT summarize the suburban temper in different terms-pragmatism, perhaps, or utilitarianism-and their intonation would depend on their own outlook. But the dominant motif is unmistakable. Not just as something expedient, but as something right, the organization ...

APPENDIX: How to Cheat on Personality Tests

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pp. 405-410

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pp. 411-445

First of all I want to thank my colleagues on Fortune. So many of them were so helpful in so many ways that I could not name them without listing the whole masthead. But I do in particular want to thank Managing Editor Hedley Donovan, and not merely because I am a good organization man. For three years he gave me the time ...


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pp. 413-429

E-ISBN-13: 9780812209266
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812218190

Page Count: 448
Publication Year: 2013