Richard L. Daft

business management researcher

Richard L. Daft (born 1964) is an American organizational theorist and the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Professor of Management at the Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University

Richard L. Daft, 2009



Organization Theory and Design, 2007-2010


Richard L. Daft, Jonathan Murphy, ‎Hugh Willmott (2007) Organization Theory and Design, 10th ed. 2010.

  • Organizations are (1) social entities that (2) are goal-directed, (3) are designed as deliberately structured and coordinated activity systems, and (4) are linked to the external environment.
  • The key element of an organization is not a building or a set of policies and procedures; organizations are made up of people and their relationships with one another. An organization exists when people interact with one another to perform essential functions that help attain goals. Recent trends in management recognize the importance of human resources, with most new approaches designed to empower employees with greater opportunities to learn and contribute as they work together toward common goals.
    • p. 10
  • The management science approach to organizational decision making is the analog to the rational approach by individual managers. Management science came into being during World War II. At that time, mathematical and statistical techniques were applied to urgent, large-scale military problems that were beyond the ability of individual decision makers. Mathematicians, physicists, and operations researchers used systems analysis to develop artillery trajectories, antisubmarine strategies, and bombing strategies such as salvoing (discharging multiple shells simultaneously). Consider the problem of a battleship trying to sink an enemy ship several miles away. The calculation for aiming the battleship's guns should consider distance, wind speed, shell size, speed and direction of both ships, pitch and roll of the firing ship, and curvature of the earth. Methods for performing such calculations using trial and error and intuition are not accurate, take far too long, and may never achieve success.
    This is where management science came in. Analysts were able to identify the relevant variables involved in aiming a ship's guns and could model them with the use of mathematical equations. Distance, speed, pitch, roll, shell size, and so on could be calculated and entered into the equations. The answer was immediate, and the guns could begin firing. Factors such as pitch and roll were soon measured mechanically and fed directly into the targeting mechanism. Today, the human element is completely removed from the targeting process. Radar picks up the target, and the entire sequence is computed automatically.
    • p. 500

The Leadership Experience, 2008


Richard L. Daft (2008), The Leadership Experience.

  • Systems thinking means the ability to see the synergy of the whole rather than just the separate elements of a system and to learn to reinforce or change whole system patterns. Many people have been trained to solve problems by breaking a complex system, such as an organization, into discrete parts and working to make each part perform as well as possible. However, the success of each piece does not add up to the success of the whole. to the success of the whole. In fact, sometimes changing one part to make it better actually makes the whole system function less effectively.
    • p. 141.
  • Systems thinking is a mental discipline and framework for seeing patterns and interrelationships. It is important to see organizational systems as a whole because of their complexity. Complexity can overwhelm managers, undermining confidence. When leaders can see the structures that underlie complex situations, they can facilitate improvement. But doing that requires a focus on the big picture.
    • p. 141.
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