Do organizations behave, or just people?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of individuals in determining how organizations are governed. It’s very tempting to describe organizations as if they are persons, to anthropomorphize them as if the organization itself were somehow controlling its own destiny. But that’s an oversimplification in most circumstances, and not a very helpful one. Sure, there is some portion of emergent behavior that we can observe and describe, but that behavior may be better explained by looking at the circumstances experienced by those in control than by some inherent property of the organization itself.

Much of my thought on this has been inspired by my reading of The Dictator’s Handbook, which itself was inspired by watching the short video below.

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