on February 12, 1999
Smith's book didn't make the same splash as Rosabeth Moss Kanter's "Men and Women of the Corporation," but it shares a similar message about power. Smith conducted an anthropological experiment that examined what happened when strangers were assigned a status level (Elite, In or Out) and asked to live together in an artificial "society." He found that social power levels were a powerful determinant of behavior. The book provides ample evidence of Smith's findings through detailed descriptions of the experiment and through a case study of a real social system (a school district) at work. Groups in Conflict is quite readable for an academic-style book. It's a must-read for anyone interested in social, racial, or ethnic conflict.
on December 2, 2008
I read Ken's book, over 25 years, ago as a grad student, after meeting Ken in a workshop at University of Maryland. It has always been a powerful thinking tool for understanding conflict dynamics in organizational development. He focuses on the role of "Middles" (analgous middle managers, teacher-participants, servant leaders)-- in managing conflict. What stuck with me was the depiction of how "Middles" most closely identify with the group's collective interest and often work, heroicly, to advance the group's goals. I will also never forget Ken's summary at the end of the book, understanding his own role and passion as a "Middle." Through this book,he remains a mentor to me, as I continue to work in my profession to make Federal government agencies more effective.