LEE G. BOLMAN is the Marion Bloch/Missouri Chair in Leadership at the Bloch School of Business and Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Widely published on the intersection of leadership and organizations, Bolman is a sought-after consultant for corporations, public agencies, and educational institutions in the United States and around the world.
TERRENCE E. DEAL retired as the Irving R. Melbo Clinical Professor of the University of Southern California's Rossier School of Education. Having served on the faculty of some of the top U.S. universities, his research into organizations, symbolism, and change informs his work as a consultant to business, health care, military, educational, and religious organizations across the globe.
This is the sixth release of a work that began in 1984 as Modern Approaches to Understanding and Managing Organizations and became Reframing Organizations in 1991. We're grateful to readers around the world who have told us that our books gave them ideas that make a difference-at work and elsewhere in their lives.
It is again time for an update, and we're gratified to be back by popular demand. Like everything else, organizations and their leadership challenges continue to evolve rapidly, and scholars are running hard to keep pace. This edition tries to capture the current frontiers of both knowledge and art.
The four-frame model, with its view of organizations as factories, families, jungles, and temples, remains the book's conceptual heart. But we have incorporated new research and revised our case examples extensively to keep up with the latest developments. We have updated a feature we inaugurated in the third edition: "Greatest Hits in Organization Studies." These features offer pithy summaries of key ideas from the some of the most influential works in the scholarly literature (as indicated by a citation analysis, described in the Appendix at the end of the book). As a counterpoint to the scholarly works, we have also added occasional summaries of management bestsellers. Scholarly and professional literature often run on separate tracks, but the two streams together provide a fuller picture than either alone, and we have tried to capture the best of both in our work.
Life in organizations has produced many stories and examples, and there is new material throughout the book. At the same time, we worked zealously to minimize bloat by tracking down and expunging every redundant sentence, marginal concept, or extraneous example. We've also tried to keep it fun. Collective life is an endless source of vivid examples as entertaining as they are instructive, and we've sprinkled them throughout the text. We apologize to anyone who finds that an old favorite fell to the cutting-room floor, but we hope readers will find the book an even clearer and more efficient read.
As always, our primary audience is managers and leaders. We have tried to answer the question, what do we know about organizations and leadership that is genuinely relevant and useful to practitioners as well as scholars? We have worked to present a large, complex body of theory, research, and practice as clearly and simply as possible. We tried to avoid watering it down or presenting simplistic views of how to solve managerial problems. This is not a self-help book filled with ready-made answers. Our goal is to offer not solutions but powerful and provocative ways of thinking about opportunities and pitfalls.
We continue to focus on both management and leadership. Leading and managing are different, but they're equally important. The difference is nicely summarized in an aphorism from Bennis and Nanus: "Managers do things right. Leaders do the right thing." If an organization is overmanaged but underled, it eventually loses any sense of spirit or purpose. A poorly managed organization with a strong, charismatic leader may soar briefly-only to crash shortly thereafter. Malpractice can be as damaging and unethical for managers and leaders as for physicians.
Myopic managers or overzealous leaders usually harm more than just themselves. The challenges of today's organizations require the objective perspective of managers as well as the brilliant flashes of vision that wise leadership provides. We need more people in managerial roles who can find simplicity and order amid organizational confusion and chaos. We need versatile and flexible leaders who are artists as well as analysts, who can reframe experience to discover new issues and possibilities. We need managers who love their work, their organizations, and the people whose lives they affect. We need leaders who appreciate management as a moral and ethical undertaking, and who combine hardheaded realism with passionate commitment to larger values and purposes. We hope to encourage and nurture such qualities and possibilities.
As in the past, we have tried to produce a clear and readable synthesis and integration of the field's major theoretical traditions. We concentrate mainly on organization theory's implications for practice. We draw on examples from every sector and around the globe. Historically, organization studies has been divided into several intellectual camps, often isolated from one another. Works that seek to give a comprehensive overview of organization theory and research often drown in social science jargon and abstraction and have little to say to practitioners. Works that strive to provide specific answers and tactics often offer advice that applies only under certain conditions. We try to find a balance between misleading oversimplification and mind-boggling complexity.
The bulk of work in organization studies has focused on the private or public or nonprofit sector but not all three. We think this is a mistake. Managers need to understand similarities and differences among all types of organizations. All three sectors increasingly interpenetrate one another. Federal, state and local governments create policy that shapes or intends to influence organizations of all types. When bad things happen new laws are promulgated. Public administrators who regulate airlines, nuclear power plants, or pharmaceutical companies face the problem of "indirect management" every day. They struggle to influence the behavior of organizations over which they have very limited authority. Private firms need to manage relationships with multiple levels of government. The situation is even more complicated for managers in multinational companies coping with the subtleties of governments with very different systems and traditions. Around the world, voluntary and nongovernment organizations partner with business and government to address major social and economic challenges. Across sectors and cultures, managers often harbor narrow, stereotypic conceptions of one another that impede effectiveness on all sides. We need common ground and a shared understanding that can help strengthen organizations in every sector. The dialogue between public and private, domestic and multinational organizations has become increasingly important. Because of their generic application, the four frames offer an ecumenical language for the exchange. Our work with a variety of organizations around the world has continually reinforced our confidence that the frames are relevant everywhere. Translations of the book into many languages, including Chinese, Dutch, French, Korean, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish, provide ample evidence that this is so. Political and symbolic issues, for example, are universally important, even though the specifics vary greatly from one country or culture to another.
The idea of reframing continues to be a central theme. Throughout the book, we show how the same situation can be viewed in at least four unique ways. In Part VI, we include a series of chapters on reframing critical organizational issues such as leadership, change, and ethics. Two chapters are specifically devoted to reframing real-life situations.
We also continue to emphasize artistry. Overemphasizing the rational and technical side of an organization often contributes to its decline or demise. Our counterbalance emphasizes the importance of art in both management and leadership. Artistry is neither exact nor precise; the artist interprets experience, expressing it in forms that can be felt, understood, and appreciated. Art fosters emotion, subtlety, and ambiguity. An artist represents the world to give us a deeper understanding of what is and what might be. In modern organizations, quality, commitment, and creativity are highly valued but often hard to find. They can be developed and encouraged by leaders or managers who embrace the expressive side of their work.
Outline of the Book
As its title implies, the first part of the book, "Making Sense of Organizations," focuses on sense-making and tackles a perplexing question about management: Why is it that smart people so often do dumb things? Chapter 1, "The Power of Reframing," explains why: Managers often misread situations. They have not learned how to use multiple lenses to get a better sense of what they're up against and what they might do. Chapter 2, "Simple Ideas, Complex Organizations," uses well-known cases (such as 9/11) to show how managers' everyday thinking and theories can lead to catastrophe. We explain basic factors that make organizational life complicated, ambiguous, and unpredictable; discuss common fallacies in managerial thinking; and spell out criteria for more effective approaches to diagnosis and action.
Part II, "The Structural Frame," explores the key role that social architecture plays in the functioning of organizations. Chapter 3, "Getting Organized," describes basic issues that managers must consider in designing structure to fit an organization's strategies, tasks, and context. It demonstrates why organizations-from Amazon to McDonald's to Harvard University-need different structures in order to be effective in their unique environments. Chapter 4, "Structure and Restructuring," explains major structural pathologies and pitfalls. It presents guidelines for aligning structures to situations, along with cases illustrating successful...