Cover image for Moral mazes : the world of corporate managers
Moral mazes : the world of corporate managers
Jackall, Robert.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1988.
Physical Description:
ix, 249 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :

On Order



"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.

Author Notes

Robert Jackall is Willmott Family Professor of Sociology and Social Thought at Williams College

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Jackall analyzes the occupational ethics of corporate managers-the moral rules-in-use that managers construct to guide their behavior at work. He presents a scenario where hard work does not necessarily lead to success, and factors such as self-promotion, powerful patrons, and luck are often the determinants of success. Organizational morality is contextual, situational, highly specific, and most often unarticulated. The traditional Protestant ethic is being replaced by the belief that one's success is no longer dependent on God, but rather on the caprices of one's superiors and the market. Those who succeed in this corporate environment become role models for a society where morality becomes indistinguishable from the quest for survival and advantage. Jackall takes a novel approach to the eternal question of morality and business, and his book could prove useful to graduate students and faculty interested in the study of corporate ethics and the social responsibility of business.-E. Garaventa, College of Staten Island, CUNY

Table of Contents

Introduction: Business as a Social and Moral Terrainp. 3
1 Moral Probations, Old and Newp. 7
2 The Social Structure of Managerial Workp. 17
3 The Main Chancep. 41
4 Looking Up and Looking Aroundp. 75
5 Drawing Linesp. 101
6 Dexterity with Symbolsp. 134
7 The Magic Lanternp. 162
8 Invitations to Jeopardyp. 191
Author's Notep. 205
Notesp. 207
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 235
Indexp. 239