An investigation of organizations.
A casual read of the news will frequently yield a story or two on a corporation or organization rotting from the inside—malfeasance, bungling product delivery, CEOs taking larger bonuses while pleading for more tax breaks, etc. Many of us are just ordinary Joes who don’t understand how office culture can be so toxic; simultaneously, we’re often cogs in the machine. Fisman (Social Enterprise/Columbia Business School) and Harvard Business Review Press editorial director Sullivan take this study of "the underlying logic of the office" beyond the common communication breakdown between management and labor, examining the balance of incentive-based rewards with fostering intrinsic motivations. Hewlett-Packard, they find, started with an emphasis on the latter and moved, as the company grew, toward the former. The authors explore a wide variety of organizations, deconstructing, reconstructing and questioning the different structures and their efficacy in fitting together to achieve the larger objective. Without the strict hierarchy provided by the Catholic Church, write the authors, the United Methodist Church is both freed and burdened with a greater flexibility at the local level to meet the tenets in their mission statement. This particular section of the book asks a question directly that is approached less specifically in other places: Does the idea of using incentive pay for pastors increase the number of souls those pastors might save?
A mostly intriguing study of business and other organizations and the “trade-offs that [they] face as they grow and evolve.”