The Age of Heretics: A History of the Radical Thinkers Who Reinvented Corporate Management. By Art Kleiner. Second Edition. Jossey-Bass, 391 pages. $29.95.
The heretics Art Kleiner writes about here aren't corporate malcontents or renegades who desert some soulless corporation to propound a better path. His interest is in people within an organization (or working closely with it) who see something that contradicts the company's conventional wisdom, and remain loyal to that new truth and to the company itself. In that search, Kleiner finds a lot of heroes whose names are little known beyond their individual company histories.
Essentially, this densely packed and highly literate book focuses on post-war corporate America and some of the unconventional thinkers who moved their companies on to better things. He divides them into a series of categories, covered in individual chapters: monastics, reformists, mystics, protesters, etc. The heretic movement, Kleiner writes, was spawned by a complex set of idea: "new types of engineering and social-science practice, in humanistic psychology and role-playing theory, in the experience of anti-Nazi resistance fighters, in the models of systems engineers...