Harold Wilensky

Harold L. Wilensky (March 3, 1923 – October 30, 2011) was an American organizational sociologist, noted among other things for his pioneering work on organizational intelligence. He was Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the author of 13 books and 70 articles.

He was born in New Rochelle, New York, in 1923 and died in Berkeley, California, in 2011.[1]


Wilensky attended Antioch College during 1942 and again 1945-47, where he majored in economics and political science. His collegiate years were interrupted by a term of service in the United States Air Force. Wilensky had been working with many labor unions, and originally went to the University of Chicago to for a full-time job doing union leadership training. He ended up attending the University of Chicago for graduate school, completing a PhD in sociology in 1955. When he arrived at Chicago, the person he was replacing suggested he get a degree while he was at the University. He originally planned to continue to study economics.[2] When he went to the economics department to inquire about continuing his education, Milton Friedman, a young assistant professor and graduate advisor, asked him what he'd being reading that would qualify him as an economist. When he responded with Max Weber, John Stuart Mill, Karl Mannheim, Karl Marx, Harold Laski, Thorstein Veblen, and Joseph Schumpeter, Friedman said "You're not an economist, you're a sociologist. You should go upstairs and see the sociologists."[2][3]

His dissertation was titled: The Staff "expert": A Study of the Intelligence Function in American Trade Unions.

Published work


  1. Political scientist Harold Wilensky dies at age 88
  2. 1 2 "Conversation with Harold Wilensky, p. 3 of 7". globetrotter.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
  3. "Harold L. Wilensky". senate.universityofcalifornia.edu. Retrieved 2016-04-07.

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