Summary of When Managers Rebel

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When Managers Rebel book summary


7 Overall

6 Applicability

8 Innovation

7 Style


This is not a book about workers rising up against abusive employers with pitchforks and torches. It’s about highly respected, dedicated young managers who like or even love their jobs, but who rebel when they feel their employers have driven them to the breaking point. Organizational sociologists David Courpasson and Jean-Claude Thoenig explain how managers reach such pivot points, and what trouble ensues when they do. In their view, such apparent trouble generally amounts to a constructive challenge from managers to their superiors that says, “I object to what you’re doing, but I’d like to suggest how to fix it.” The book’s real-life case studies (the names have been changed to protect the innocent) show how managers in varying situations rebelled in different ways. Although the authors offer little guidance on how to realize the positive outcomes of these rebellion scenarios in your own workplace, getAbstract thinks this book will help middle managers better understand how they can solve problems by embracing constructive resistance and rebellion – and yet escape career death.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why and how managers rebel, and
  • How companies can respond successfully to such rebellions.

About the Authors

Consultants David Courpasson and Jean-Claude Thoenig are organizational sociologists. Courpasson, a professor at the EMLYON Business School, edits the research publication Organization Studies. Thoenig is director emeritus of research at University Paris-Dauphine.



Rebels with Causes
When managers feel that they are at a breaking point, their companies can find themselves dealing with “rebellion, revolt, protest,” and more. A rebelling manager’s superiors may assume that he or she is going through a tough time at home, not getting enough sleep, or...

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    Middle Management
    Making an impact from the middle of the action – how to lead up and down.

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