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Summary Article: Handy, Charles Brian
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Irish management educator and influential writer about organizations. He was a professor at the London Business School for many years from 1972, before becoming an independent writer. His comparative study of managers in the UK, the USA, Europe, and Japan, The Making of Managers (1988), helped shape contemporary approaches to management methods.

Handy describes himself as a social philosopher, concerned with the dramatic changes that technology and economics are bringing to the workplace, which he has explored in later publications such as The Empty Raincoat (1994) and Beyond Certainty (1995). In the best-selling The Age of Unreason (1989), and the sequel The Empty Raincoat, he explored the changing world of employment, identifying the most effective organizational structures: these include the ‘shamrock’ structure, composed of core workers whose work is essential to the organization, contractors for non-essential, but necessary, work, and a flexible workforce of temporary workers; and the ‘federal’ structure, which has a central core to plan long-term strategy but allows the individual divisions independence.

Handy was born in Kildare, Ireland, in 1932, the son of an archdeacon. He graduated from Oriel College, Oxford, with a first-class honours degree in ‘Greats’, and has said that the intellectual discipline of classics, history, and philosophy gave him ‘the ability to think’. After college, he worked for Shell International as a marketing executive and as an economist and management educator at the London Business School, before entering the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Having received his MBA from Sloan in 1967, he returned to the UK to design and manage the only Sloan Program available outside the USA at the UK's first Graduate Business School in London. In 1972 Handy became a full professor at the school, specializing in managerial psychology.

In Understanding Organizations (1976), Handy argued that the key to successful organizations lay in a better understanding of the needs and motivations of the people within them.

Handy received the McKinsey Award for his Harvard Business Review articles, ‘Balancing Corporate Power: A New Federalist Paper’ (1992) and ‘Trust and the Virtual Organization’ (1995). He served as Warden of St George's House in Windsor Castle (1977–81), and was chair of the Royal Society of Arts in London (1986–88). He holds honorary doctorates from four universities in the UK and from Trinity College, Dublin, and has been a regular contributor to the daily ‘Thought for the Day’ feature on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. He was awarded a CBE in 2000.


Handy, Charles Brian

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