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William Whyte’s ‘The Organization Man’: A Flawed Central Concept but a Prescient Narrative


  • Dallas Hanson
  • Wayne O’Donohue


William H Whyte’s concept of organization man is now used in bowdlerised form, shorn of its polemical core. It was an appeal against the situation of people in the big organiations taking shape after World War Two, belonging to the organization rather than simply working for it, earning rewards that are also, in the end, traps. In the current worlds of agile organizations with serially loyal staff these people no longer exist, and in fact the only group that fits the Whyte pattern are dedicated priests. At the same time, the polemic is never more relevant than today because we live in a world in which we are closely surveilled on many levels using ever more sophisticated technology, and in which many human resource management practices increase the power of organization over individual. William Whyte’s time has come.

Suggested Citation

  • Dallas Hanson & Wayne O’Donohue, 2010. "William Whyte’s ‘The Organization Man’: A Flawed Central Concept but a Prescient Narrative," management revue. Socio-economic Studies, Rainer Hampp Verlag, vol. 21(1), pages 95-104.
  • Handle: RePEc:rai:mamere:1861-9908_mrev_2010_1_hanson

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    1. repec:ilo:ilowps:344117 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Elke Holst & Dean R. Lillard & Thomas A. DiPrete, 2001. "Proceedings of the 2000 Fourth International Conference of German Socio-Economic Panel Study Users (GSOEP 2000): Editorial Introduction," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 70(1), pages 5-6.
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    More about this item


    Christian economic ethics; Catholic Social Teaching; post-secular society; political theology; social market economy;

    JEL classification:

    • A10 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - General
    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies


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