THE NEW INDIVIDUALISTS by Paul Leinberger

THE NEW INDIVIDUALISTS

The Generation After The Organization Man

KIRKUS REVIEW

 To see the world in a grain of sand might be within the powers of a Blake, but realists may doubt whether a high-tech consultant and his collaborator can accurately assess a generational subgroup and its impact on American society on the basis of 300 or so interviews over a seven-year period, plus ancillary statistical data. Undaunted, Leinberger and Tucker (co-author, James Brown: The Godfather of Soul, 1986) attempt to define the approximately 19 million adult children sired by ``organization men'' (the felicitous term coined in 1956 by William H. Whyte). They do so, moreover, in deadly earnest fashion and with a surfeit of bafflegab. Focusing on the members of two putatively representative families (who were among Whyte's original subjects), the authors trace the typically convulsive evolution of organizational offspring from so-called authentic selves to artificial persons. In this murky context, they purport to probe such issues as: how the life experiences of this minority segment of the 75-million-strong baby-boom generation compare with those of its parents; occupational rivalry; socioeconomic trends in a postmetropolitan era; and the widespread urge to be creative. The Leinberger-Tucker team concludes that sons and daughters of the organization are all ``stout individualists--each in exactly the same way,'' i.e., with values, philosophical outlooks, and underlying motives that are essentially identical. From a behavioral standpoint, the authors argue, these less-than-rugged individualists express themselves either as humanists or egoists. By their account, the former tend to demand that organizations become more caring and sensitive, while the latter reason they can function without animating essences or principles. According to Leinberger and Tucker, the implications of the ``ambiguously enterprising'' organization offsprings' assuming positions of trust, responsibility, and power in the workplace as their elders pass the torch are far from clear. Despite a paucity of credible evidence to support any such claim, the authors theorize that the advent of these frustrated narcissists could signal a restoration of US competitiveness as well as compassion. Haute twaddle.

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 1991
ISBN: 0-06-016591-X
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991