Harold J. Leavitt, 1922-2007

December 21, 2007
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Harold J. LeavittTell someone unfamiliar with the business of book publishing (and this of course describes almost everyone you meet) that you work at a university press, and you almost inevitably hear: “Oh, you publish textbooks then?” Well, no, we don’t—our scholarly publishing mandate is to publish new research, which rarely describes the contents of a textbook.
Except sometimes. One of those times was in 1958 when we published a textbook called Managerial Psychology by a youngish professor at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh. The book brought the field of organizational behavior into the business school curriculum, a revolutionary idea at the time. New enough at any rate, that the book was turned down by the typical publishers of business school textbooks. But business and industry was changing rapidly in 1958 and Managerial Psychology quickly found a market.
The author of that book was Harold J. Leavitt, who died on December 8 in Pasadena, California. He was the Walter Kenneth Kilpatrick Professor of Organizational Behavior, Emeritus, at the Stanford Graduate School of Business at the time of his death. His work changed what business schools taught and how business and industry motivate and evaluate their personnel.
We published the fifth and last edition of Leavitt’s textbook in 1988. We also published several editions of a companion volume, Reading in Managerial Psychology.
The Los Angeles Times ran an obituary a few days ago.

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