Free Agent Nation

Free Agent Nation

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Pink, Daniel H. Warner Books, 2001
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IN THIS SUMMARY

William Whyte’s “Organization Man”-“[The] ones of our middle class who have left home, spiritually as well as physically, to take the vows of organization life …who are the mind and soul of our great self-perpetuating institutions” is, according to Pink, dead-gone the way of the horse and buggy. Taking his place are more than 30 million self-employed, independent contractors and micropreneurs-free agent “dis-organization” men and women who are transforming the workplace and society in profound and invigorating ways. Yet, despite their numbers and growing influence on American culture, information about this emerging workforce, and its possible impact on the present and future, is almost nonexistent. Pink’s definitive report and analysis of this socio-economic revolution describes who the new free agents are, why they are, and how they are changing business, politics, education, and family. The Organization Man ignored his own identity and aspirations in order to serve the large organization. In turn, the organization rewarded him with a regular paycheck, the promise of lifetime employment, and a fixed and recognized place in a society, where he was the dominant member. Over the past decade, however, work has been undergoing the most significant and profound transformation since Americans left the farms of rural America to work in urban factories and offices. Now, millions are leaving these “jobs,” defined by the Industrial Revolution, to become self-employed knowledge workers, proprietors of home-based businesses, temp workers, freelancers and e-lancers, independent contractors and independent professionals, micropreneurs and infopreneurs, part-time consultants, interim executives, on-call troubleshooters, and full-time soloists (approximately 33 million total). Many others, still on the job, are more like free agents than they are “employees.” They are moving from company to company, they are telecommuting, and they are swapping steady paychecks for commissions, stock options, and bonuses. This transition is both a cause and effect of the “Hollywood model”-the devolution of power from the organization to the individual. One of the most obvious results of this transformation is that the largest private employer in the U.S. is not GM, Ford, Microsoft, or Amazon.com, but Manpower, Inc.-a temp agency.