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on 15 August 2007
Don't read this if you are looking for management recipes or prescriptions. If on the other hand you have found your other MBA textbooks and readers unchallenging, supported by flimsy evidence and littered with bold assertions, far too thick, and unreasonably expensive, read this and then pass it on. It challenges a lot of things and leaves you questioning what you have learnt. If you are still studying, will guarantee a few bonus points on that late essay.
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on 16 April 2010
A year ago, I awarded this book 3 stars only (for the reasons set out in the lower part of the review). I have now (July 2011)reread it (after a year's interval)and award it the full five. The reason for the change in rating is simply that I now see its contribution going far beyond that of studying organisstions - and more in the field of social criticism. If only it had a different title, it would be a best-seller!!

The book promises much at the start - with iconoclastic attacks on the types of writing about organisations - but left me, at the end, with the impression sociologists generally do and which indeed the author anticipates half way through in a paragraph entitled - Why are you always carping? "You may well be thinking, he says, something along the lines - will nothing ever satisfy you? Older approaches to organisations have been condemned as dehumanising and degrading. Human-relations-type approaches are manipulative. Culture management is brainwashing. Now we have non-hierarchical, personally-focused and trust-based organisations (he attacks Richard Semmler's writing about Semco) and you are still whinging". Quite!
I know you can't say a great deal about the study of organisations in 180 pages - but the book's de-constructivism is a bit repetitive.
And I was shocked to see no references to those whose study of organisations were practically grounded and focussed - eg those associated with the Tavistock Institute such as Emery and Trist; or Revans (action-learning). No mention of Eliott Jacques who was associated with Glacier Metal. Nor of the OD consultant, Roger Harrison, who worked with Charles Handy (also not mentioned) on the idea of organisational cultures (The Gods of Management). Ronnie Lessem was also a fascinating writer. One of Grey's central questions is why writing in this field is so boring - but he has missed so many individuals whose writing IS interesting. Perhaps because the focus of his book is on the study of organisations in business schools (about which he has a separate chapter). He does make the point that the guru figures in these schools are American - and most of the names I;ve mentioned are British! The title therefore is misleading - he should have added that qualification.
And a lot of money and energy is spent on the study of organisations in the public sector - which hardly figures in his book. Granted the models people use for this work draws on the fashions of the private sector - and perhaps it deserves a separate book. But some references would still be appropriate.
ps the book is advertised as having 208 pages - it actually has 187!
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on 13 October 2005
This is a great book for getting to grips with the key concepts surrounding the study of organizations, without having to plough through hundreds of pages. The ideas are accessible but not simplistic. The author is argumentative and irreverent - you won't be in any doubt about his views - and his book is the perfect antidote to dry textbooks.
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on 5 January 2012
Fantastic read. It has certainly cast a new perspective on how I view Organisations and Organisational theory. Whilst I don't share his view that business schools fail to make better managers (as he provides no evidence to support this claim), I nonetheless agree with his views (which lend themselves to critical theory) about the caveats of fast capitalism, that organisations be about more than instrumental rationality (efficiency) and his criticisms of the managerialist conceit which is embedded in so much of populist organisational theory.
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on 22 April 2011
I found this a very enjoyable read, not from the viewpoint of a course book, but simply as a well written book. Its extremely enlightening and gets you thinking about the world we live in. Its never boring and I have been back to it twice and will be back to it many times more. I am studying information technology and would highly recommend it to anybody studying organisations or managerial techniques before they become indoctrinated into a way of thinking.
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on 15 February 2013
A good read for pros and interested amateurs alike, spiced with a multitude of challenging authorial interventions. More than a study of management, rather a series of discourses on contemporary social, economic, political and moral issues from the perspective of an academic iconoclast. A pity Amazon is still selling the second edition (2009) with its outdated chapter five that deals with the financial crisis, albeit presciently.
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on 8 November 2013
studied this during my college days, wanted to re-read to impart gyan to my colleagues at office by sharing the book.
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on 29 July 2014
Excellent 'relevant' 'mind-training' preparation for my forthcoming BA (Hons) in Management & Leadership.
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on 11 May 2012
I am not going to say too much about the general themes of the book as they have been discussed before, I just wanted to say a few things about the general experience of reading the book. It's not an easy read - at all. If it was indeed his aim to make a book which was both of an alternative perspective and accessible, then he probably should revise the wording. Breaking down each OB movement of the past century or so systematically is already something which won't keep the layman riveted; the effect on me - I came quite close to using the book to beat myself unconscious on various occasions - shows that his wordiness is counter intuitive: by trying to keep his arguments logical and cohesive, when I had read the book my initial thoughts was that he cared an awful lot about HIMSELF seeming clever and if I had trouble getting through it I feel bad for all of the foreign students at my university for whom English is not their first language. I would like to reiterate that generally his arguments are good, and offer a rounded perspective; however they could have been stated in a way that would align better with his apparent intentions when writing the book
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on 29 December 2011
Nothing to say ! Everything is in the title ! It explains quickly and simply all the main points for management studies ! It is very general though!
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