Summary of Reasons and Rationalizations

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Reasons and Rationalizations book summary


6 Overall

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3 Style


Management scholar Chris Argyris tackles an important problem: the pervasiveness of defensive reasoning that prevents people in organizations from understanding when and why they are skillfully incompetent. Unfortunately, he employs such an academic style that his arguments are primarily useful to fellow scholars, although they would be relevant to managers if they were offered more accessibly. The professor assumes that readers are familiar with social science literature, processes, issues and vocabulary. For those who seek solutions to the organizational problem of defensive reasoning, he offers enlightening explanatory theories, but not much practical advice. That said, it is comforting to note that someone has looked seriously at the disconnection between what executives say and what they do. Argyris catalogues the dimensions of this dysfunction and proposes - although not very concretely - that it may be open to some correction, perhaps through such tools as double-loop learning and "left hand/right hand" analysis. suggests this book to experts in organizational behavior, corporate culture and issues in scholarship about management.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why people in organizations engage in self-deception and defensive reasoning;
  • Why organizations fail to carry out the values they advocate;
  • What theoretical models they follow; and
  • Why scholars are concerned and involved.

About the Author

Chris Argyris received his Ph.D. in organizational behavior from Cornell University in 1951 and taught at Yale University for 20 years before becoming Conant Professor of Education and Organizational Behavior at Harvard University. He has written 33 books and monographs and more than 400 articles, and has received eleven honorary degrees.



Defensive Reasoning
Organizations suffer when their leaders engage in defensive reasoning because: Instead of focusing on a productive solution to a problem, defensive reasoning focuses on protecting an individual or a group. It uses self-referential logic that is...

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