THE COX REPORT ON THE AMERICAN CORPORATION by Allan Cox

THE COX REPORT ON THE AMERICAN CORPORATION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Devise a questionnaire, and--if you're lucky, as Cox was--you'll get the answers to a questionnaire. For the record, 1,086 top- and middle-management executives from 13 sizable corporations were quizzed on sundry corporate-management matters--from recruitment policies through in-house communications to ""social responsibility"" performance. Cox himself is a corporate headhunter (Confessions of a Corporate Headhunter, 1973), and the only material with a modicum of interest pertains to executive-evaluation. Does it surprise you to learn that corporations rate a B-average business major from a state university over a Phi Bet lit major from Princeton? That being rive minutes late for an interview is even worse than wearing scuffed shoes? Most of what seems to strike Cox as extraordinary, even in this area, isn't: executives are ""gluttons for punishment""; ""paternalism is far from dead""; sales managers are highly promotable. (Less than usual is made, though, of private lives and corporate wives.) Moving out into corporate operations, Cox asks banal questions and gets banal, sometimes irreconcilable answers. ""In the main, executives express satisfaction with their jobs and relationships with their corporations"" (p. 118). ""Corporations just barely eke by in their morale-building efforts"" (p. 161). Much of the text consists of spelling out the non-news in the tables. (""Thirty-two percent top executives and 44 percent middle claim their companies never or only sometimes engage in morale-building among their executives."") Cox mainly shuffles his feet. (""On the other hand, if is dirty pool to suggest that most companies routinely ignored their social responsibilities. . ."" Two pages later: ""It isn't cricket to be overly harsh in judging corporate behavior where social responsibility is concerned."") Few corporate execs worth their paychecks are going to bare their souls to a short-answer questionnaire; with this one, they can be glad if they were answering on company time.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1982
Publisher: Delacorte