A COMPANY OF CITIZENS:
What the World’s First Democracy Teaches Leaders About Creating Great Organizations
Brook Manville and Josiah Ober
202 pages (Harvard Business School Press, 2003)

How do you build a focused and aligned workforce while stimulating the entrepreneurship and independence that leads to innovation? The answer may lay in ancient Greece, according to authors Brook Manville and Josiah Ober. By linking diverse citizens together in self-governing teams and rotating leadership responsibilities among the teams, Athens created a highly participatory system built on trust. The authors argue that the Athenian model can inspire a motivated and knowledge-based workforce in modern organizations. While the principles of the model are self-explanatory, the complexity is knowing how to apply them. The book stops short of providing a blueprint for how modern companies – with owners, CEOs, and shareholders – or nonprofits – with boards, executive directors, clients, and funders – can translate these principles into action.

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