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Understanding Organizations [Fourth Edition] [Paperback]

Charles Handy
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Jan 1993

Organizations are a part of everyday life, whether in schools, hospitals, police stations or commercial companies. In this classics text, Charles Handy argues that the key to successful organizations lies in a better understanding of the needs and motivations of the people within them.

Understanding Organizations offers an extended 'dictionary' of the key concepts -- culture, motivations, leadership, role-playing, co-ordinating and consultation -- and then shows how this 'language' can help us find new solutions to familiar problems. Few management writers have been as consistently challenging and influential as Charles Handy. Firmly established as one of the core business texts, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in organizations and how to make them work better.

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Understanding Organizations [Fourth Edition] + Gods of Management: The Changing Work of Organisations + Inside Organizations: 21 Ideas for Managers (Penguin Business)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 487 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Fourth Edition edition (1 Jan 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140156038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140156034
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 31,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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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

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).

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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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply one of the best management books around 11 Jun 1999
By A Customer
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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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential book on Organization Theory 12 Dec 1999
By A Customer
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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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really a management essential! No question! 20 Feb 2000
This book draws upon and analyses most modern management theories, and gives Handys well informed perspectives. The work does indeed contain pearls of wisdom, and should be essential reading for any open minded manager. The work is intended as a diagnostic tool, and would be essential for any of us prudent enough to use it as such. It is also well written enough to make a stimulating and interesting read for any intellectual person, something that cannot be said of many management books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
An in-depth read leaving no stones unturned. Have you ever thought for a minute that you have considered everything when dealing with people, projects and strategy...well this book reminds managers that there is always another angle! Thought provoking across the entire managerial spectrum from the essential ingredients, people, to the roll they play in creating and maintaining businesses. Prof. Handy provides all of the managerial tools needed to build a successful organization. The challenge remains to choose the right tools at the right time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Such a good book to this this 4th ed is from 1993 and its still so good in to days world - love it! ive only just go this book and i can say its very "handy" for doing with (study etc) in the area of organizations. This is an easy read book and is very good for students and is a good refrence to add in to one project! this book will cover both organizational theory and organizational behaviour, it great for many types of organizations and comes with some good Figs
There are so many good reviews for this book im going to end this here and say if you have found this book and are thinking should i buy it or not, i say get it, i held off for a few weeks and wish i had not this is such a good read and handy book to have on ones shelf.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Understanding Organisations, Charles Handy
I bought this book when embarking on my CIPD Foundation certificate and found it extremely
useful. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Chloe Fox-Lambert
5.0 out of 5 stars very good
Charles Handy always writes well and in a contemporary rather than academic way. I feel this makes the subject matter he writes about much more accessible. Read more
Published 4 months ago by LOUISE CERES
4.0 out of 5 stars another must have for CLD
Im guessing most CLD workers/students have this book so don't need to read a review to realise its worth! recommend
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars front cover page was not the same as i receive but all other are ok
front cover page was not the same as i receive but all other are ok, but I love amazon, perfect
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful
Handy's work is so often referred to, but it is great to read his work first hand. This is an interesting and useful book.
Published 7 months ago by TG
5.0 out of 5 stars thanks for the good service
Everything was fine. The book was there within the time, it was in a good shape and the price was okay as well. Thanks again!
Published 8 months ago by Patrick Elf
5.0 out of 5 stars Landmark Book on Organisation and Management in Simple terms yet in...
I first came across this book in 1998 when I was working for the Sheffield City Council's Education Department. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Matloub Husayn-Ali-Khan
4.0 out of 5 stars For Study
Brought this book for college it was just what I needed and will be used no doubt in my next course
Published 9 months ago by Lisa Mathew
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best leadership books
Easy to understand. I will have to buy more Charles Handy Books.
Strongly recommend for any manager or management student.
Published 12 months ago by Kane
5.0 out of 5 stars yes.
I first discovered Charles Handy many years ago and found his writing quite transformative.

He talks sense, and allowed my creativity to emerge. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Word Soup
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