Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate Managers

Oxford University Press (1988)
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Abstract

What is right in the corporation is not what is right in a man's home or in his church," a former vice-president of a large firm observes. "What is right in the corporation is what the guy above you wants from you." Such sentiments pervade American society, from corporate boardrooms to the basement of the White House. In Moral Mazes, Robert Jackall offers an eye-opening account of how corporate managers think the world works, and of how big organizations shape moral consciousnss. Based on extensive interviews with managers at every level of two industrial firms and of a large public relations agency, Moral Mazes takes the reader inside the intricate world of the corporation. It is a world where hard work does not necessarily lead to success, but where sharp talk, self-promotion, powerful patrons, and sheer luck might; where intense competition is masked by cheerfully bland public faces; where intentions are cloaked and frankness is simply one of many guises; and where words are always provisional and accountability often depends on the ability to outrun mistakes. In this topsy-turvy world, managers must bring often unforgiving technology and always difficult people together to make money, an uncompromising task demanding continual compromises with conventional verities. Moral issues are translated into practical concerns and into issues of public relations. Sooner or later, managrs ask themselves: How does one act in such a world and maintain a sense of personal integrity? Moral Mazes is a brilliant, sometimes disturbing, often wildly funny study of corporate thinking, decision-making, and morality. It is an analytical work of great importance, one filled with compelling real life stories of the men and women charged with running the business of America. It is a book for anyone interested in how big organizations actually function, or who is concerned with the current moral malaise in our public life.

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