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Understanding Organizations (4th Edition) (Penguin Business) Paperback – 31 May 1993


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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.



Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; 4th edition (31 May 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140268413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140268416
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,979,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Charles Handy's revolutionary 1989 bestseller The Age of Unreason catapulted him into the ranks of the top management consultants. In Understanding Organizations, he solidifies his reputation as a seminal business thinker, offering a brilliantly insightful, wide-ranging look at business organizations.

This classic text offers an illuminating discussion of key concepts of concern to all managers: culture, motivation, leadership, power, role-playing and working in groups. Ever mindful of actual business practice, Handy directly addresses how managers can translate the six main concepts into invaluble tools for effective management. He discusses how all organizations need to select, develop and reward their people; to structure and design their work; to resolve political conflicts; to lay down guidelines for their managers; and to plan for the future. In each case, the approaches and techniques described here are invaluable.

Equally important, Handy excels at presenting his ideas in colourful, immediately accessible ways, filling the book with illuminating examples and inventive metaphors that range from Tolstoy's ideas on the concept of self, to the many meanings of "good morning," to the conversations that occur in a stopped elevator, to the proper size for a vineyard or an elephant. He shows, for instance, how an optical illusion experiment sheds light on interdepartmental relations, and how the way schoolchildren are typecast by their peers helps explain corporate hierarchies. And along with case studies, graphs, charts, and questionnaires, Understanding Organizations is peppered with boxed sections that offer advice and stimulate thought, brimming with provocative quotations from business wizards such as Peter Drucker, Tom Peters, Warren Bennis, Alvin Toffler, and Rosabeth Moss Kanter, as well as from Aristotle, Shakespeare, Gilbert and Sullivan, Gail Sheehy, and Joseph Heller.

What the successful manager knows intuitively, Charles Handy puts into words. His powerful interpretive schemes will help managers grasp the underlying dynamics of their company, make sense of its past, and assess--and shape--its future. --Jake Bond --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Charles Handy is now a writer and broadcaster, following careers as an economist, Professor at the London Business School and a consultant to a wide variety of organizations. He is widely regarded as the top 'businessguru' in the UK. UNDERSTANDING ORGANIZATIONS was originally published in 1976. He lives in Norfolk and London (Putney). --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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I came to the study of people in organizations expecting certainty and absolute knowledge in the behavioural sciences. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Jun 1999
Format: Paperback
I first came across this book when studying for my MBA.Later I started teaching management classes(1992);the official reading lists for the courses I taught were long and full of difficult to read texts. Some of the students asked me to recommend an easy to read text; I recommended this book because I had found it so easy to handle. I've recommended it ever since. Over the years it has been revised and improved so it still remains fresh and stuffed with current management thinking. The summaries of different theories are really useful for struggling students.If you are a first year BA or a CMS/DMS student - buy it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas J. R. Dougan TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 July 2008
Format: Paperback
Charles Handy is arguably the UK's top business "guru", but in my opinion this title somewhat diminishes his life's work, which has gone beyond matters of simple business administration into a philosophy of life and work, and is imbued with a spirituality that I find infectious (even though I am not a very spiritual person). This, however, is his seminal management text, and there is but a hint of the philosophical musings of "The Empty Raincoat" and "The Hungry Spirit".

Understanding Organisations was first published in 1976, and my fourth edition (I don't know why Amazon describes this as the third edition - that must be an error) was published in 1993, with a revised introduction in 1999. It cannot claim to be entirely up to date, therefore, but it remains valid both as a commentary on previous work on motivation, roles, leadership, power groups and organisations as well as contributing many of Handy's own ideas on the subject. I think that it was here that he first used analogies with the ancient Greek gods to describe the cultures of organisations, which he later developed in "Gods of Management". I've dipped into this book in the past, and have worked through it systematically recently as one of the key texts for a course on "Organisational Behaviour". My impression is that there are few more recent developments in this field than were taken into account in the writing of the book.

I have few quibbles. Handy's style is scholarly - I had wondered if this was his doctoral thesis but in fact he did not do one (he has an honorary one from Trinity College Dublin). It is accessible - and I do like the dry humour with which he delivers some of his case studies - but it is not as an easy or entertaining a read as some of his subsequent works. This is an excellent book, whether to use as a course text or to dip into as you experience and reflect on "trouble at mill" in your working life.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Dec 1999
Format: Paperback
Charles Handy's book is an essential reader of the most modern developments in organizational theory and organizational behaviour. It provides a useful overview of the different key issues that matter to organizations: not just leadership and design (as it is often the case elsewhere), but the ecological and cultural factors as well.
Anybody who cares about organizations (whether they are hospitals, schools, a factories or businesses of any kind) will benefit from this down-to-earth yet profound and wise book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By read4life on 22 Jan 2011
Format: Paperback
A comprehensive book on organizations, and how they work. The book has three parts.

Part one, 'The concepts', begins with the first chapter, about this book explaining the utility of organizational theory, the nature and history of organization theory, including a figure showing the relationship between people, power and practicalities. Early motivation theories, the psychological contract, money and summary and implications are useful in the second chapter, On the motivation to work. The third chapter is one of the most useful and introduces roles and interactions including The concepts of role theory and role definitions, role incompatibility, role conflict, role overload and role underload, all useful in understanding roles, as is the explanations on role stress and the implications of stress. Perceiving people and interacting with people deals with the interaction side of roles and overall, the chapter is summarised well.

Chapter 4, of 'On Leadership', including style theories, contingency theories and general conclusion on leadership and lead on well to the next chapter of 'On power and influence', methods of influence relates well to the use of power in organizations and lead on well to the implications of power and influence in organizations. 'On the working of groups' in chapter 6, deals with the purposes of groups including organizational purposes and individual purposes and continues to the determinants of group effectiveness along with a case study of the task, the environment and the intervening factors.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Parry on 27 May 2007
Format: Paperback
Charles Handy has been very influential shaping my attitudes to work, life styles and the management of organisations. This is a great primer for new students. I also highy recommend reading all his books and listening to his audio recordings.

His later works outline succinctly the demands changing corporations and globalization place on individuals and society. A very inspirational and thought provoking commentator, he positions the world of work in the larger context of ethics and morality. He also explores the human struggle to maintain individuality, spirituality, choice, freedom and dignity
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