White-collar blues: management loyalties in an age of corporate restructuring

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BasicBooks, Mar 1, 1995 - Business & Economics - 224 pages
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Charles Heckscher interviewed over 250 middle managers from a wide array of firms, including Honeywell, General Motors, Pitney-Bowes, Dow Chemical, Figgie International, Du Pont, and AT&T. To his surprise, he discovered that, in most cases, managers remained loyal to their firms even after substantial downsizing and, in some instances, brutal layoffs. Yet this loyalty helped neither the managers, who felt increasingly bewildered by changes that made no sense, nor the companies, which, in trying to preserve loyalty, found themselves increasingly avoiding harsh realities. Heckscher points out that for more than half a century, large corporations have struck a bargain with their managers: near-total lifetime security in exchange for near-total subordination of individuals to the corporate will. That bargain, which Heckscher characterizes as paternalistic, has provided comfort to managers and stability to bureaucratic organizations. Most managers would still like to hold on to it. But, according to Heckscher, the more successful companies are moving beyond the paternalistic exchange. He found four organizations that have transformed the old ethic of loyalty into a "professional ethic" - a new form of community built around a shared purpose and mission. Heckscher suggests that this shift, if it is to spread beyond a few hothouse examples, must be supported by fundamental changes in corporate management, government policies, and social institutions - changes as deep as those that accompanied the rise of corporate bureaucracy early in the century. White-Collar Blues offers companies guidelines for managing change and for making the new corporate culture benefit not only the corporation butalso its workers. The book also tells how individuals can prepare themselves for the new realities in the workplace and maximize their chances for success, given the certainty of uncertainty.

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White-collar blues: management loyalties in an age of corporate restructuring

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Using interviews he conducted with 250 middle managers from companies that included AT&T, Dow Chemical, and Du Pont, Heckscher (The New Unionism, LJ 3/1/88) looks at how middle managers respond when ... Read full review


The Assault on Middle Management
The Meaning of Loyalty

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About the author (1995)

Charles Heckscher is a professor in the Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations at Rutgers University. His research focuses on organization change and its consequences for employees and unions, and on the possibilities for more collaborative and democratic forms of work. His books
include The New Unionism, The Post-Bureaucratic Organization (Sage, 1994), White-Collar Blues (Basic Books, 1995), and Agents of Change (OUP, 2003). As Director of the Center for Workplace Transformation he is leading research into the development of collaboration in local unions and corporations.
Before coming to Rutgers he worked for the Communications Workers' union and taught Human Resources Management at the Harvard Business School. Paul Adler is Professor of Management and Organization at the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California. Educated in Australia and
France, he came to the US in 1981. Before joining USC in 1991, he was affiliated with the Brookings Institution, Columbia University, the Harvard Business School, and Stanford's School of Engineering. His research and teaching focus on organization theory and design. He has published widely in
academic and managerial journals both in the U.S. and overseas. He has also published three edited volumes: Technology and the Future of Work; Usability: Turning Technologies into Tools; and Remade in America: Transplanting and Transforming Japanese Management Systems, all with Oxford University

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