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Any organization, no matter how stolid, may be unsettled by the news that a new boss is about to take over. Talk in the hallways increases, staff worry about their jobs, uncertainty grows. Even when the change has happened, problems emerge when the boss who was hired to manage “from above” has to learn about the organization “from below.”
In this book, Niklas Luhmann scrutinizes the relationship and shows how it is stretched to its limit by communication difficulties, demands for self-presentation, and disagreements concerning fundamental values. Many of the tensions crystallize around the question “who has the power?” It isn’t necessarily the boss, provided the employees are well versed in the art of directing their superiors. “Subtervision” is Luhmann’s term for this state of affairs, and tact is the most important means to this end. Yet caution is advised: whoever achieves mastery in subtervision may well become the new boss.
This slim and thought-provoking book from one of the most influential sociologists of the twentieth century will be of great interest to anyone seeking to understand the dynamics and machinations of the workplace.