"People often do what they do for the reasons they think they do”: First Edition of The Organization Man; Inscribed by William Whyte

  • The Organization Man.

The Organization Man.


Item Number: 2141

New York: Simon & Schuster, 1956.

First edition of one of the most influential books on management ever written. Octavo, original half cloth. Inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper, “Best to Lydia Bronte about whom this book was not written! Holly Whyte 4/18/89.” Additionally signed “William H. Whyte” on the title page. Near fine in a very good price-clipped dust jacket with a few small chips to the crown of the spine. Uncommon signed and inscribed.

William H. Whyte was an American urbanist, organizational analyst, journalist and self-proclaimed people-watcher. The Organization Man is "[r]ecognized as a benchmark, Whyte's book reveals the dilemmas at the heart of the group ethos that emerged in the corporate and social world of the postwar era" (Nathan Glazer). While employed by Fortune Magazine, Whyte did extensive interviews with the CEOs of major American corporations such as General Electric and Ford. A central tenet of the book is that average Americans subscribed to a collectivist ethic rather than to the prevailing notion of rugged individualism. A key point made was that people became convinced that organizations and groups could make better decisions than individuals, and thus serving an organization became logically preferable to advancing one's individual creativity. Whyte felt this was counterfactual and listed a number of examples of how individual work and creativity can produce better outcomes than collectivist processes. He observed that this system led to risk-averse executives who faced no consequences and could expect jobs for life as long as they made no egregious missteps. Whyte's book led to deeper examinations of the concept of "commitment" and "loyalty" within corporations. It "established the categories Americans now use when thinking about the workplace, the suburbs, and their lives" (Newsweek).

Ask a Question