Behavior, Technology, and Organizational Development: Eric Trist and the Tavistock Institute, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Behavior, Technology, and Organizational Development

Eric Trist and the Tavistock Institute, 1st Edition

Edited by Richard Trahair


352 pages

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Hardback: 9781412855679
pub: 2015-08-30
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Eric Trist was a psychologist, social scientist, and a leading figure in the field of organizational development. He was a founding member of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations in London and spent many years in United States academia. This book delves into Trist's life to examine the evolution of his work and how he applied social science theory, knowledge, and methods to the organization of working life and its management. Richard Trahair outlines Trist's socio-technical theory of organization and how it applies to the turbulent environment that modern managers face.

Trahair begins with Trist's educational career in England and his attitude toward American and English education. He also describes Trist's work to improve the United Kingdom's Army's method of selecting men for officer training in wartime, and his role in the establishment of the Civil Resettlement Units in England.

In place of the traditional technology-driven bureaucracy of industry, Trist recommended that social science researchers help reorganize industries on socio-technical lines. Trist provided convincing evidence that organizations dominated by traditional attitudes were inefficient and unsatisfactory. He made it clear that seeing workers as little more than costly extensions of machines and the industrial environment as nothing but a set of competitive market forces seriously limited potential for growth.

Table of Contents



1. Family and Schooling

2. English Studies at Cambridge

3. Psychology Studies at Cambridge

4. The American Experience, 1933–1934

5. The American Experience, 1934–1935

6. Back Home in Dundee

7. Trist's War

8. At the Tavistock Clinic

9. Early Research and Teaching

10. Institute Colleagues

11. Institute Administration and Funding, 1952–1958

12. Early Research with Emery

13. Marriage, Palo Alto, and the Split

14. Formalizing the Split

15. Back to America

16. Three-Generation Family

17. Projects in the United Kingdom, the Americas, and Canada

18. Working Style and Future View

19. Retirement to York

20. Final Years

Writings of Eric Trist, 1925–2001


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