Murphy's Law is, of course, the pessimistic postulate that holds: ""If anything can go wrong, it will."" Professor Waddell...



Murphy's Law is, of course, the pessimistic postulate that holds: ""If anything can go wrong, it will."" Professor Waddell (California State Univ., Los Angeles) concedes that economic, technological, demographic, political, legal, and other societal changes have not only magnified the complexities of running an organization but also increased the possibility of on-the-job error. He argues persuasively, however, that corporate executives can escape the long arm of Murphy's Law by applying the management principles spelled out in his manual. His advisories divide about evenly between proscriptive and prescriptive. ""Incentives often produce undesirable results,"" he cautions, ""when they reward one dimension of performance."" Among other instances, Waddell cites the problems posed by bosses who strive for short-run profits which yield handsome bonuses at the expense of their companies' longer-range prosperity. But--on the plus side--Loctite Corp. surmounted an analogous difficulty by rewarding sales reps for finding new uses for its adhesive products, not for simply grinding out additional volume. Waddell is also keen on preparing for contingencies: new competition, loss of a key employee, equipment failures, and the like. (North Korea's seizure of the U.S.S. Pueblo in 1968, he asserts, illustrates the grave risks that are run in the absence of contingency plans.) The bulk of the text--which covers such areas as planning, goal setting, exercising leadership, ceding subordinates authority, as well as responsibility, improving productivity, etc.--comes to seem a long windup for a final pitch on management by objectives. To Waddell, MBO is a result-oriented mechanism which stimulates planning and integration at every level by making all managers and professionals responsible for stating what they can and will do to accomplish specific organizational goals. A constructive contribution to the literature of management science which highlights the negative without eliminating the positive.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1980


Page Count: -

Publisher: Amacom

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1980