A Company of Citizens: What the World's First Democracy Teaches Leaders about Creating Great Organizations

Overview


The "knowledge revolution" is widely accepted, but strategic leaders now talk of the logical next step: the human capital revolution and the need to manage knowledgeable people in an entirely different way. The organization of the future must be not only nimble and flexible but also self-governing and values-driven. But what will this future organization look like? And how will it be led? In this thoughtful book, organizational expert Brook Manville and Princeton classics professor Josiah Ober suggest that the ...
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Overview


The "knowledge revolution" is widely accepted, but strategic leaders now talk of the logical next step: the human capital revolution and the need to manage knowledgeable people in an entirely different way. The organization of the future must be not only nimble and flexible but also self-governing and values-driven. But what will this future organization look like? And how will it be led? In this thoughtful book, organizational expert Brook Manville and Princeton classics professor Josiah Ober suggest that the model for building the future organization may lie deep in the past. The authors argue that ancient Athenian democracy was an ingenious solution to organizing human capital through the practice of citizenship. That ancient solution holds profound lessons for today's forward-thinking managers: They must reconceive today's "employees" as "citizens." Through this provocative case study of innovation and excellence lasting two hundred years, Manville and Ober describe a surprising democratic organization that empowered tens of thousands of individuals to work together for both noble purpose and hard-edged performance. Their book offers timeless guiding principles for organizing and leading a self-governing enterprise. A unique and compelling think piece, A Company of Citizens will change the way managers envision the leadership, values, and structure of tomorrow's people-centered organizations.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The authors of this earnest manifesto a Chief Learning Officer and a classics professor, respectively take ancient Athens, with its reputation for excellence and its ability to generate growth and attract talent, as the original example of a successful organization. Its achievements, they argue, flowed from its unique participatory democracy, which balanced inspired leadership with democratic decision-making and aligned citizens interests to the common good without stifling individual initiative. Thus the city-state provides a model of organizational governance, one particularly suited to companies with knowledge workers bent on doing their own thing. Although couched in ponderous management-ese, the book s praise of democracy as a management tool is backed by an interesting reading of Greek history. But the authors draw few practicable innovations from the comparison, because its implications are often too vague (they suggest networks of networks, for instance) or radical (such as a rotation of leadership roles). The authors celebrate Athenian voting, but they don t conclude that rank-and-file workers should vote on company policy; and that time-honored institution of work-place democracy, the labor union, goes unmentioned. And while they chide Athens for excluding women and its large slave population from citizenship, they don t fully extend that argument to corporations. To the authors, corporate citizenship is an honor suitable for a substantial number of a company s workforce a belief that suggests that true democratic citizenship is still a subversive idea, even for management theorists. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578514403
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2003
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 845,769
  • Product dimensions: 6.52 (w) x 8.72 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author


Brook Manville is Chief Learning Office and Chief Customer Evangelist at Saba, a firm that delivers human capital development and management solutions. Josiah Ober is Chair of the Department of Classics and David Magie '97 Class of 1897 Professor of Ancient History at Princeton University. He teaches courses on participatory democracy and postmodern organizations; and on the politics of learning in Ancient Athens.
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Table of Contents

Preface
1 Back to the Future 1
2 Citizenship in Action 23
3 The Invention of Citizenship 55
4 The Passions of Citizenship 87
5 Practicing Citizenship 119
6 Building Today's Company of Citizens 151
Notes 177
Index 191
About the Authors 201
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