The Org: The Underlying Logic of the Office

Author(s): Ray Fisman

Business & Economics | Social Sciences | Staff Picks

We create organizations because we need to get a job done--something we couldn't do alone--and join them because we're inspired by their missions (and our paycheck). But once we're inside, these organizations rarely feel inspirational. Instead, we're often baffled by what we encounter: clueless managers, a lack of clear objectives, a seeming disregard for data, and the vast gulf between HR proclamations and our experience in the cubicle."So where did it all go wrong?"In THE ORG, Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan explain the tradeoffs that every organization faces, arguing that this everyday dysfunction is actually inherent to the very nature of orgs. THE ORG diagnoses the root causes of that malfunction, beginning with the economic logic of why organizations exist in the first place, then working its way up through the org's structure from the lowly cubicle to the CEO's office.Woven throughout with fascinating case studies-including McDonald's, al Qaeda, the Baltimore City Police Department, Procter and Gamble, the island nation of Samoa, and Google--THE ORG reveals why the give-and-take nature of organizations, while infuriating, nonetheless provides the best way to get the job done.You'll learn: The purpose of meetings and why they will never go awayWhy even members of al Qaeda are required to submit Travel & Expense reportsWhat managers are good forHow the army and other orgs balance marching in lockstep with fostering innovationWhy it's the hospital administration-not the heart surgeon-who is more likely to save your lifeThat CEOs often spend over 80% of their time in meetings-and why that's exactly where they should be (and why they get paid so much)Looking at life behind the red tape, THE ORG shows why the path from workshop to corporate behemoth is pockmarked with tradeoffs and competing incentives, but above all, demonstrates why organizations are central to human achievement.

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"A voice of reasoned analysis amid the airport bookstore barkers. . . . Fisman and Sullivan's measured approach is far more valuable; the conclusions and insights presented in The Org are ones you can actually use." 

Sam Grobart - Bloomberg BusinessWeek 

"Fisman and Sullivan write in a casual, engaging fashion, a style that makes their book an impressively easy read." 

Erika Fry - Fortune       (JC BookGrocer)


Fisman and Sullivan discuss the importance of the organisational space of a business and how it has come to be what it is by using interesting examples such as Mcdonald’s, Google, and even al Qaeda. They explore why organisations exist in the first place and the role and origin of the various areas of the office space from the cubicle to the CEO’s office. This book is fascinating in its exploration of the shared workspace and is highly recommended for those who work in one of these spaces! Georgia, Book Grocer Northcote

Ray Fisman is the Lambert Family Professor of Social Enterprise and co-director of the Social Enterprise Program at the Columbia Business School. His is the author of Economic Gangsters with Ted Miguel. Tim Sullivan is the editorial director of Harvard Business Review Press and has worked at Basic Books, Portfolio, and Princeton University Press, where he helped build one of the most successful academic economics lists in the world.

General Fields

  • : 9780446571593
  • : Grand Central Publishing
  • : Warner Books Inc
  • : January 2013
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Ray Fisman
  • : Hardback
  • : 309