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The New Boss
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.
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  • October 2018 (hb)
    September 2018 (pb)
  • 80 pages
  • 130 x 193 mm / 5 x 8 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $45.00
  • 9781509517879
  • Paperback $12.95
  • 9781509517886
  • Open eBook $12.95
  • 9781509517916
Table of Contents
  • Introduction: “The Same Boss as the Old Was?”
  • Andreas Hess
  • The New Boss
  • The Spontaneous Creation of Order
  • Subtervision or The Art of Directing Superiors
  • Afterword
  • Jürgen Kaube
  • Sources of the Texts
  • Notes
About the Author
Niklas Luhmann (1927-1998) was Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Bielefeld University.
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“While many know Niklas Luhmann in his capacity as a systems theoretician, few are aware that he has also written a number of important essays in organization theory. The New Boss represents an excellent introduction to this part of Luhmann’s work: it is bristling with interesting ideas about leadership, formal organizations, groups and much more.”
Richard Swedberg, Cornell University
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