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The Neurotic Organization: Diagnosing and Changing Counterproductive Styles of Management (1984)

Manfred Kets de Vries, Danny Miller

The Neurotic Organization: Diagnosing and Changing Counterproductive Styles of Management

Corporations, as well as people, can be neurotic – paranoid, compulsive, depressive. Sometimes a neurosis reflects the leadership style of the top executive, but it can come to permeate the organization at all levels. At other times the neurosis has developed over the years as part of an irrational organizational culture. But whatever their origins, neuroses threaten an organization’s well-bring and even its continued survival. Unconventional measures are often needed to restore the neurotic organization to health.

This book offers an authoritative discussion of the irrational forces at work in organizations. It integrates psychiatric and psychology findings and insights with management and organizational behavior theory to reveal the underlying causes of many organizational problems. With numerous intriguing vignettes and case histories, it details five different organizational neuroses – paranoid, compulsive, dramatic, depressive, and schizoid – and shows how each affects planning, decision making, organizational cultures, and individual executives.

Based on their extensive experience as management consultants, the authors offer numerous examples and case studies that illustrate ways of diagnosing problems and promoting individual and organizational change. Revealing why organizational problems often seem intractable, they expose patterns of neurotic behavior at every level form the overall organization to departments and groups, two-person relationships, and individuals. They uncover the underlying causes behind such problematic organizational behavior as repeated abrupt changes in direction, excessive studies that never lead to action, cults of secrecy, and other counterproductive patterns. And they discuss how groups within organizations can lose touch with reality by creating shared fantasies. They also explain ways of dealing with psychological conflicts and working for positive change within organizations. Offering advice to executives at various stages in their careers, they investigate psychological barriers to growth and change – and detail ways of overcoming them.


Also Available:
- In French as "L'Entreprise Nevrosée". Published by McGraw Hill International, Paris (1985)
- In Dutch as "De Neurotische Organisatie". Published by Børsen, Amsterdam (1987); pocket edition (1990)
- In Spanish as "La Organización Neurotica". Published by Clasicos del Management, Apostrofe, Barcelona (1993) Published by Mentor Books, paperback edition (1988)
- In Italian as "l'Organizzazione Neurotica". Published by Raeffaelo Corfina, Milano (1992)
- In Japanese (1994). Paperback edition, published by Harper & Row, (1991)

Parts reprinted in The Washington Post, The Globe and Mail, MacLeans, The Economist, J. Pierce and J. Newstrom's The Manager's Bookshelf (Harper & Row, 1988), Gareth Morgan's Creative Organization's Theory, (Sage, 1989), J-F Chanlat's L' Individu dans l'organization (Laval University Press, 1990).

Jossey-Bass, 1984

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