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1. What is organization?
2. What is the best way to organize?
3. What does it mean to be an organization?
4. Who does organizing serve?
5. How does organizing happen?
6. Why do organizational scholars disagree?
7. Where do we go from here?
Posted September 7, 2011
Organizations are everywhere. It is impossible not to be a part of at least one major organization, be it your place of work, worship, or education. Understanding what organizations are and how they operate, evolve, and dissolve are important topics that any educated person ought to explore. Unfortunately, it is impossible to glean any useful information about organizations from this very short introduction.
Most of the observations and ideas in this book are either abstract and theoretical or so concrete that they are downright trite. All the references are to 100+-year-old thinkers, with a special predilection for Marx. There are virtually no empirical evidences or testable hypotheses anywhere in this book. Nowhere are mentioned any of the recent developments in social sciences of organizations and organizational behaviors. This book is a quintessential product of armchair intellectualism and ivory tower navel-gazing. It may be well-suited for a humanities seminar or one of a myriad "studies" departments, but it is as far from serious relevant scholarship as they come. This is one of those rare books that may make you understand its subject less after you read it.
Unfortunately, over the past year or so the quality of the titles in the Very Short Introduction series has dramatically deteriorated. To be sure, the series still provides many worthwhile gems, but you can no longer be reasonably sure that picking any one of these slim volumes will provide you with unqualifiedly informative and educational experience. There seems to be a serious failure on the part of the editorial staff to properly vet and recommend appropriate books for the inclusion in the series. I would strongly encourage you to read up as many reviews as possible of the recent VSI books before you commit yourself to buying or reading any one of them.