Moral Mazes

Moral Mazes : World of Corporate Managers

4.04 (206 ratings by Goodreads)
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Major corporate scandals occur regularly in the U.S.A. and a common feature is the large number of people who participate willingly in them. In this fascinating and disturbing study, Robert Jackall asks how basically good people are persuaded to act dishonestly. He explains how a bureaucratic language designed to dull resistance to wrongdoing has been developed, how the tight chain of command reduces the possibility that someone within the organization will become a whistle blower, and how the bureaucratic organization gangs up to achieve its ends, and fights like a cornered animal for its survival. It is a book for anyone interested in how large organizations function, or concerned with the moral laxity in public life. Readership: students of managerial and business studies, business ethics and business more

Product details

  • Hardback | 260 pages
  • 160.02 x 236.22 x 25.4mm | 566.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195038258
  • 9780195038255

About Robert Jackall

About the Author Robert Jackall is Professor of Sociology and Chairman of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Williams College. He is the author of Workers in a Labyrinth: Jobs and Survival in a Bank Bureaucracy, and of many essays and reviews in publications such as Harvard Business Review, Commonweal, Science, and Contemporary Sociology. In addition, he co-edited Worker Cooperatives in America with Harry M. more

Review Text

By his own account, Jackall (Anthropology and Sociology/Williams) had a very hard time gaining access to large US corporations. Consequently, his anecdotal appreciation of high-echelon executive life is longer on depth than breadth. The author's bleak judgment that expedient morality is a norm in the upper reaches of industrial/commercial organizations also raises questions as to who bought all the New Age management guides that were written and sold in recent years (cf. Michael Maccoby's Why Work, reviewed below). All told, Jackall probed only two concerns - a southern textiles-maker that he dubs Weft Corp., and the Alchemy Chemicals Division of Covenant Corp., a pseudonymous conglomerate. Largely on the basis of conversations with the individuals who run these companies, the author reaches some sweeping and decidedly distressing conclusions, characterizing managerial mores as adaptive and flexible rather than rooted in "some set of internally held convictions or principles." In like vein, he argues: "only men and women who can accept the world (in which they work) as it is. . .have a true calling to higher corporate office." Stewardship, the author finds, is an alien concept for the careerists of big business who nonetheless profess allegiance to the Protestant ethic. He theorizes that corporate bureaucracies "create for managers a Calvinist world without a Calvinist God," thereby inducing vague unease - and genuine anxieties. While Jackall has a sharp ear for the euphemisms that pass for communication among executives, he frequently lapses into academic jargon. All too many of his appraisals are couched in terms like "dichotomous modes of thinking," "fealty," "objectifying habit of mind," and "patronage." In brief, then, a provocative, disturbing - and distorted - assessment of executive values that does not measure up to such better-balanced studies as Rosabeth Moss Kanter's Men and Women of the Corporation and William H. Whyte's classic The Organization Man. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

206 ratings
4.04 out of 5 stars
5 34% (70)
4 42% (87)
3 18% (37)
2 6% (12)
1 0% (0)
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