One, No One and a Hundred Thousand
Summary of the book...
One, no one and a hundred thousand Author: Luigi Pirandello an interpretative commentary and comparative analysis anal ysis in relation with informal organizational theories and interpersonal group dynamics concepts – concepts –
“This is the house where I was borne; in a particular year, month and day. Topographically speaking, the length, width, and number of windows are the same for everyone; and the same the year, the month and the day in which I was borne […] does result from this that all of you make the same impressions and ideas about me and my house? You, who live in a cottage, find my house a palace; you, the one with awful taste, you will find it vulgar and indecent […] each of you will judge jud ge it according to your reality (Pirandello, 1926). I chose this passage belonging to Luigi Pirandello’s book, “ One, no one and a hundred thousand to start with considering it a linkage between the above stated work and the present ”
paper. Thereby, the multiple meanings and faces that can be attributed to each person or object, isn’t only the idea after which the book was built on, but the current paper represents my personal view, the way I understood the author’s message, and the subject of the book, after processing it according to my experiences and reality. Therefore, this paper explores the ideas communicated by Luigi Pirandello in his book, in correlation with some concepts belonging to the organizational theories field: informal interactions and relations and interpersonal group dynamics, as well as some theories used in order to motivate people, theories related to the common human needs. In this way, the paper will analyze the concepts listed before, at various levels, the paper covering the following overall structure: a theoretical analysis of the chosen theories, and a comparative analysis of the theories in relation to the story of the novel. Before starting our analysis, it is important to get a sense of Luigi Pirandello’s work and to justify why I have chosen this book. After reading a brief summary of the book, the idea of the novel, the controversial discovery made by the main character of the book, sparked my interest and let me further reflect at that belief, that I have to recognize, come into my mind a few times previously, before reading the novel. In consequence, I think that Luigi Pirandello offers in his book an intense and interesting subject that reflects my interest regarding how an individual’s behavior is influenced influ enced by the people around him, how the social, the ego and the self-fulfillment self-fulfillment needs influence someone’s behavior and behavior and about what involves the human need to socialize.
Chester Barnard, one of the theorists of whose works and ideas are considered to be of great value in the progress of the organizational field, analyzed in a more exhaustive and specific ways the same issues that we meet in Luigi Pirandello’s novel. In his work integrated by other theorists in the human relations movement, he perceived organizations as systems of cooperation of human activity, he analyzed the importance of groups, communication and of association among individuals, he studied how interpersonal relations come to be formed and how these interactions affect both individuals and the effectiveness of an organization. Before moving to the theoretical level of the current paper, I want to emphasize once more the importance of these concepts that can be observed both in Luigi Pirandello’s novel, as in the Chester Barnard’s works, concepts that are too often ignored or treated as unimportant precisely because they are considered of common sense as they deal with issues related to human nature. Nevertheless, in today’s world, where technology and physical science have become fundamental, I think we have to learn how to properly utilize the social sciences theories, discover after all how to interact with the one around us, and understand what human spirit and human nature means, in order to live in harmony with us and those around us, because after all, either in organizations or everywhere in our life, the greatest joys and sorrows come from the relations with other people. At this point, I will continue with a theoretical analysis of Chester Barnard’s theories regarding the human resource frame, more precisely on one of the basic human kind characteristic – the need to socialize: “It is a matter of general observation and experience that persons are frequently in contact and interaction with each other” (Barnard, 1938). Starting from this idea, further in his paper named “Informal organizations and their relation to formal organizations” he speaks about the first consequence of these interactions, that lead to informal organizations. They are defined as “The aggregate of the personal contacts and interactions and the associated groupings of people” (Barnard, 1938). Based on the human need to socialize, these kinds of informal organizations are found everywhere: in the community, in the state, in organizations. Therefore, after they become known under a common concept – informal organizations, the individuals behavior that form them was closely observed, and so appeared some specific patterns that define this kind of groups. We can resume the most important of their characteristics as they ap pear in Barnard’s paper (Barnard, 1938) as it follows:
they involve two or more people;
they involve informal type of interactions and relations;
they involve the human need to socialize;
they appear and are repeated without any joint purpose;
they include both friendly and hostile relationships and interactions;
such contacts and interactions change the experience, knowledge and emotions of the individuals affected;
they are indefinite, structureless, and have no definite subdivision;
If we analyze the definition given by Barnard to the concept of informal groups, and the characteristics stated above, we can determine a series of consequences generated by these interactions. We will focus on our paper on two of the most important of them. The first one brings out the immediate effect that appears as a result to the repeated interactions and contacts inside a group of people: the one that states that after a while, in a group are established certain attitudes, understandings, customs, and habits. A second effect, and maybe the one with the most significant weight to the organizational field, is linked to the first one and states that the conditions mentioned above represent the proper conditions under which formal organizations may arise. As Bernard stated in his book, “Informal association is rather a condition which necessarily precedes formal organization. The possibility of accepting a formal purpose, of communicating and of attaining a state of mind under which there is willingness to cooperate, requires prior contact and preliminary interaction” (Bernard, 1938). So, summarizing the process described above, as a result of repeated contacts and interactions, people may have similar needs and interests, and so result families, social clubs, organizations, known under the concept of formal organizations. As it appears in the Business Dictionary, “a formal organization is a system of consciously coordinated activities or forces, of two or more persons”. (Business Dictionary) The most valuable contributions of Bernard’s works are due to the fact that he studied informal organizations as an indispensable part of formal organizations: “what is asserted is that there cannot be one without the other. If one fails, the other disintegrates”. (Bernard, 1938) The interdependence between the informal and the formal organizations has been studied in psychological and social terms, and after observing and analyzing some concrete situations, it has been proved that in case of associations that weren’t ready in terms of informal interactions, the individuals were placed in a sort of “social vacuum, producing a feeling and behavior of being lost”. In situations in which this feeling is shared by a large number of people, there is a high probability that they could do any sort of mad things (Bernard, 1938).
Conditioned by the informal organizations at all levels, the entire effectiveness of the formal depends from the essential need of individuals to associate. A suitable example for this statement would be the behavior of soldiers that expose themselves to dangerous situations, not only because of patriotism, but also in a spirit of comradeship. A series of functions of informal interactions inside formal organizations, designed to avoid social disintegration have been settled. As appear in the Informal Organizations and Their Relation to Formal Organizations paper (Barnard, 1938), the most important are:
maintenance of cohesiveness through regulating the willingness to serve and the stability of objective authority;
the maintenance of the feeling of personal integrity, self-respect, and independent choice;
As we have seen, the social need to interact, and the necessity to maintain a social sense of integration, represents a basic human need, which attracted not only the attention and interest of theorists, but also the one of literature writers. Luigi Pirandello is one of those, and in his novel called One, no one and a hundred thousand , reflecting at a deep idea that characterizes our existence, the way in which we perceive ourselves and how is this affected by the way others see us, he come off with a different version, an artistic one of presenting the concepts that Barnard stated in his works. In this way, the novel stated above builds up its idea on how important human interactions are and how they affect us, by describing the struggle of the main character – Moscarda, Genge to his wife, that realizes that far from being unique, he has no single identity, because everyone he knows sees him into a different light, and in this way he possesses multiple identities in the eyes of others. In fact, Moscarda himself no longer recognizes, the novel presenting into a very absorbing manner the identity crisis through which our character is passing through. In the following part of the current paper I will comment the novel’s central conflict in connection with the theory state d in the first part, paying attention to the similar aspects that can be found in both books. As a fist and most important similarity between the chosen papers we will discuss about the concept of informal and formal organizations and where can they be found in our novel. As we have said, as a consequence of the permanent contact and interaction between people, first result informal groups, which, on the basis of some common goals, further become formal organizations. Following the same idea, in our novel we can identify several already formal organizations. I will concentrate my arguments referring to two of them: the first one is
represented by Moscarda’s family (composed by he and his wife), and the second one, consists of he and two of his friends and employees in the same time, as they were named to drive Moscarda’s business, the bank he had inherited from his father. So, as in Barnard’s theor y, we deal here with “aggregates of personal contacts and interactions and with associated groupings of people”. As a second step in my argumentation and comparative analysis, I will examine if the common characteristics of informal organizations stated by Bernard can be found in the informal groups found in the novel, and then I will discuss a few of them, with the most relevance to the novel’s plot. Therefore, both relation with his wife and interaction with his friends involve two or more people, involve informal type of interactions and relations, involve the human need to socialize, include both friendly and hostile relationships and interactions, and they change the experience, knowledge and emotions of the individuals affected. I will further analyze the last two of the characteristics in relation to the story of the novel. Both friendly relations at the beginning, the interactions became hostile from the moment that his wife is asking Moscarda, while he was looking in the mirror, if he looks to see to which one of the sides is his nose directed. At that moment he realizes that his wife is right, and that he had never thought at that before: “Therefore, this sudden and unexpected discovery irritated me; as an undeserved punishment does”.(Pirandello, 1926) On this basis, he realized that his wife has created a version of Moscarda that she loves, and that has nothing to do with him. The idea that others see him differently starts torture him, and on this basis he begins to do all kind of experiments in order to find the real “he”. From that moment, the relation with his friends and employees, of whom he was satisfied until then, becomes tensioned as well. All this interactions and experiences start to affect his emotions: “Here begun my decline; decline that would lead me in time at some miserable and desperate both material and spiritual conditions. I would for certainly have died or gone mad if I hadn’t found the remedy that would heal me even in the things that af fected me”. (Pirandello, 1926) The character starts to do all sort of crazy things trying to demonstrate the others that he is not what they think he is. So he begins to argue with his wife, with those working at the bank, he even donates one of his properties to a stranger, he wants to close his bank even if it’s the only income source, and all of this because of a personality crisis caused by the people around him. Thirdly, I will focus on the correlation between the informal and the formal organizations. As Barnard said, “informal organizations constitute the proper conditions under which formal
organizations may arise”, and “there cannot be one without the other. If one fails, the other disintegrates”. (Barnard, 1938) These principles are valid on our novel’s plot too. Both Moscarda’s marriage and the bank which are formal types of groups were constituted after preliminary interaction, by which we understand informal interactions, and under some common goals and willingness for future cooperation. The second one is also checked: as the relations inside the informal groups became tensioned, Moscarda got what we mentioned in the first part of the paper, the feeling and the behavior of being lost, due to his personality crisis, and so the social disintegration inside the formal groups appeared: his wife leaves him, and his friends, as the rest of his employers and neighbors believe him crazy and try to prove this, in order to save the bank from closure. As fourth and final idea in the present comparative analysis, I will focus on two of the functions of informal interactions inside formal organizations, designed to avoid social disintegration and I will try to see at what point our characters went wrong and reached social disintegration. The first function to be analyzed is communication. In my point of view this was the principal cause of the entire courses of actions. If Moscarda wouldn’t have close in himself, but rather he would have spoken out his mind, maybe things would have end better. But instead, he begin to attack the rest by indicate their weaknesses and isolating himself, isolating not only from the one around him, but from his own personality: “Since that day, all I wanted was to be alone (…) This is the way in which I wanted to be alone: without the others, and without me. I mean, without the one that I already knew, or thought I knew. Only with a stranger that I was already feeling inside me and that cannot be removed, separated by me”. (Pirandello, 1926) The second function refers to the maintenance of the feeling of personal integrity, self-respect, and independent choice. This principle seems to be legitimate too, because along with the identity lost, our character lost his self-respect and personal integrity. Therefore, as these two main functions that are designed to maintain the social cohesiveness weren’t respected, the disintegration was impossible to avoid. Another set of theories that we are going to explore within the current paper, in correlation to Luigi Pirandello’s book, are related to interpersonal and group dynamics. They ideas on which they are build is pretty much related to the one stated by Bernard. They focus on how relations between individuals affect human satisfaction and personal needs, as well as organizational effectiveness. As the theories stated in the first part of our paper, these one also
investigate relationships from an informal and formal perspective, but what is new to these one is the fact that they explore ways of understanding the importance of individual differences in style. The first concepts related to these theories that I want to discuss are the Espoused theories, and the Theories-in-use. They make the difference on how people perceive themselves and think they are, but how they really are in the real life, emphasizing those inaccuracies in people’s behavior when they typically see themselves in a specific way (espoused theories), without realizing that their manner of acting is totally or partially different (theories-in-use). Further, I would like to analyze two customized models, each of them representing a set of steps which are usually used by individuals in their attempt to influence others. These models refer to cases of conflict between individuals. As it appears in the paper named Reframing organizations, the pattern offered by Model no 1 is:
Assume that the problem is caused by the other person;
Develop a private, unilateral diagnosis and solution;
Since the other person is the cause of the problem, get that person to change;
If the other person resists or becomes defensive, it confirms that the other person caused the problem;
Respond to resistance through some combination of intensifying pressure and rejecting the other person;
If your efforts are unsuccessful or less successful than hoped, it is the others person’s fault.
In contrast to Model 1, Model no 2 proposes a totally different way of dealing the problem:
Emphasize common goals and mutual influence;
Communicate openly, and publicly test assumptions and beliefs;
Combine advocacy and inquiry;
Even though we all can deduce which one of the two models offers a greater effectiveness, applying the steps proposed by the second model aren’t as simple as we thing. A possible explanation would be that these solutions require a higher level of openness, openness that includes risks, a high level of confidence and put anyone in uncomfortable and frightening situations, while it is much easy to recur to self-protection and so, to the steps found in model no 1.
It is very interesting to confront the behavior of Moscarda- the main character of the novel One, no one and a hundred thousand to the principles stated in the above presented theories and models, in order to see if his behavior fits a specific pattern and if his tragic fate can be blamed on the inappropriate decisions he took. First I will analyze the Espouse theory and the Theories-in-use, related to the character’s behavior. Here we confront ourselves with a discrepancy as the interior conflict of our character exceeds the theory’s limits and solutions. Even though until some point the theories overlap the character’s concerns, at some point, his thoughts go beyond, as the way in which other see him doesn’t count only on the way he acts, but according also to their precedent experiences and way of perceiving reality – “How can you be so calm when the others can judge you as they like, I mean unfair, while you are safe and secure because you haven’t done anything wrong? If others exist, what gives you this safety? ”. (Pirandello, 1926) Therefore, these theories relate the novel’s plot only partially, the entire philosophical idea proposed by the other being too wide and complicated to overlap the theories. Further I will address to the subject relating to the two models described above, by analyzing if the character’s behavior can be included in one of the two models, and if it can, then on which one. From the moment the problem appeared (Moscarda realized his wife sees him in a different light), he considered that his wife was the problem, although he realized that she was right regarding his nose: “Oh! What a surprise! Wives! Exist only to report men’s flaws.” Then, instead of communicating openly, he developed a private, unilateral solution as he wanted to demonstrate the others of how ignorant and blind they were. The next step from model no 1 is also fits our character’s behavior, as he responds to the others resistance through some combination of pressure and rejection. The specialists opinion regarding how destructive model 1 can be confirmed in Moscarda’s faith too, as he ended lonely, into a mental institution. I will conclude in the same manner I started, with a quotation from the novel that I believe that resumes the whole above analyze: “If at some point you realize that you aren’t for the others the same that are for you, how would you react? Be honest. You won’t do nothing, or maybe too little. You will be convinced that the others misunderstood you, didn’t get your point, and that’s all. If some of you will be bothered, you will try to change their judgment by giving explanations, making clarifications, or you will simply let it go. You will stop for a second and say: This is it. I have my conscience and it’s enough for me” (Pirandello, 1926). So, what do I understand by this and how did reading the book helped me better understand the theories regarding the importance of people’s interactions in the daily life and in the
effectiveness of an organization? I think that by having a concrete example, in our case Moscarda’s experiences and the obstacles he’s facing I could better realize how these mechanisms function and what proportions and effects can have. I consider Moscarda’s ideas as some valid and interesting concepts to further think at and reflect at, and as a general conclusion I think that we cannot avoid to be misunderstood be the one around us, and neither having conflicts with others, but we have to learn who to deal with them, how to properly act in order to take the most of our interactions, because at the end, socializing it’s a human basic need, and isolating ourselves it’s not a solution.
1. Luigi Pirandello, One, no one and a hundred thousand, 1926, Marsilio Pub. 2. Chester I. Barbard, The functions of the executive, 1938 3. Business dictionary
Student: Anca Iosub Specialization: NGO’s Management