Although it was first published more than thirty-five years ago, Up the Organization continues to top the lists of best business books by groups as diverse as the American Management Association, Strategy + Business (Booz Allen Hamilton), and The Wharton Center for Leadership and Change Management. 1-800-CEO-READ ranks Townsend’s bestseller first among eighty books that “every manager must read.”
This commemorative edition offers a new generation the benefit of Robert Townsend’s timeless wisdom as well as reflections on his work and life by those who knew and worked with him. This groundbreaking book continues to remind us not to get mired in all those sacred organizational routines that stifle people and strangle both profits and profitability. He shows a way to humanize business and a way to have fun while making it all work better than it ever worked before.
Robert Chase Townsend (July 30, 1920 – January 12, 1998) was an American business executive and author who is noted for transforming Avis into a rental car giant. After graduating from Princeton in 1942, he was commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy, serving for the remainder of World War II.
After the war, he was hired by American Express in 1948. By the time he left the company, he was the senior vice president for investment and international banking. In 1962, Lazard Frères bought Avis, a struggling auto rental company that had never made a profit in its existence. One of the partners, André Meyer, convinced Townsend to leave American Express and become CEO of Avis. Under his direction as president and chairman, the firm became a credible force in the industry, fueled by the “We Try Harder” advertising campaign (1962–65). Avis also began to have profits, which Townsend credited to Theory Y governance. In 1965, ITT acquired Avis, leading to Townsend's departure as president. After leaving Avis, he became a senior partner of Congressional Monitor (1969). He wrote the widely acclaimed essay on business management, Up the Organization, which spent 28 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list upon its publication in 1970.