The Individualized Corporation

A Fundamentally New Approach to Management

Sumantra Ghoshal, Christopher A. Bartlett

Publisher: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1998, 353 pages

ISBN: 0-434-00339-5

Keywords: Management

Last modified: July 30, 2021, 1:22 a.m.

A groundbreaking book by two world-class business professors, The Individualized Corporation presents managers with an invaluable model for the new millennium.

William Whyte's 'Organization Man' is dead. In the largest and most pervasive corporate revolution since Alfred Sloan and Pierre du Pont laid the foundations of modern management in the 1920s, companies are abandoning the deeply embedded policies and practices that are failing them. Yes, in the aftermath of a series of restructuring, re-engineering and revitalization initiatives, overwhelmed and confused managers everywhere are wondering, What next? Based on six years of research and hundreds of interviews with managers at every level in companies such as Intel, ABB, Canon, 3M and McKinsey, The Individualized Corporation explores the collapse of an outmoded corporate form. It reveals the emergence of a fundamentally different management philosophy that focuses on the power of the individual as the driver of value creation in the company and on the importance of individuality in management. Sumantra Ghoshal and Cristopher Bartlett, world-renowned scholars and consultants, conclude that in today's service-based, information-intense, competitive environment corporate leaders must recognise that human creativity and individual initiative are their most important source of competitive advantage.

The image of the 'organization man' as a cog in a corporate machine has become not only dated but dangerous. Rather than try to force employees into a homogenous corporate mould based on a company's strategy, structure and system, Ghoshal and Bartlett argue that managers must embrace a philosophy based on purpose, process and people — one that focuses on developing and leveraging the individual's unique talents and skills.

Without proposing a universal solution or a quick-fix prescription, The Individualized Corporation describes in practical detail not only the 'what' but the 'how' of building and managing an Individualized Corporation. It develops a new model of organization as a portfolio of processes rather than a hierarchy of tasks. It describes the new roles that frontline, middle and top-level managers must play and examines the personal attitudes, knowledge and skills they will need in order to succeed in these new roles. It also defines the outlines of a new moral contract that this new generation of companies must develop with its employees and society at large. Rich with examples of pioneers who have successfully evolved from traditional bureaucracies to Individualized Corporations, this substantial book provides an indispensable guide for those who must lead their companies into the new millennium.

Without doubt, The Individualized Corporation is one of the most important management books to be published this century.

    • Acknowledgments: Shipmates in a Voyage of Discovery
  • Part 1: Introduction: Birth of a New Corporate Model
    1. Rediscovery of Management: From Organization Man to Individualized Corporation
    2. Rebirth of an Organization Man: One Manager's Rediscovery of Management
  • Part 2: From Organization Man to Individualized Corporation
    1. Inspiring Individual Initiative: Building on a Belief in the Individual
    2. Creating and Leveraging Knowledge: From Individual Expertise to Organizational Learning
    3. Ensuring Continuous Renewal: From Refinement to Regeneration
  • Part 3: Building and Managing the Individualized Corporation
    1. Shaping People's Behaviors: Changing "The Smell of the Place"
    2. Building Organizational Capabilities: The Company as a Portfolio of Processes
    3. Developing Individual Competencies: Beyond the Russian Doll Model of Management
    4. Managing the Transformation Process: A Blueprint for Corporate Renewal
  • Part 4: Toward a New Corporate Era
    1. A New Moral Contract: Companies as Value-Creating Institutions
    2. The Changing Role of Top Management: Beyond Strategy, Structure, and Systems to Purpose, Process, and People
  • Appendix: The Shoulders We Stood On


The Individualized Corporation

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

Mediocre **** (4 out of 10)

Last modified: May 21, 2007, 3:18 a.m.

Absolute worthwhile to read (if you manage to get through the guru-babble), but very little practical advice.


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