SECOND TO NONE: Hove Our Smartest Companies Put People First by Charles Garfield

SECOND TO NONE: Hove Our Smartest Companies Put People First

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Entrepreneurial psychologist Garfield (Peak Performers, 1985, etc.) strives at tiresome length to prove that corporations throughout the Free World are undergoing fundamental transformations that make them, if not paragons, at least paradigms of New Age values. Unfortunately, he rests his case more on anecdotal evidence, wishful thinking, and singularly uncritical case studies than on any kind of systematic analysis or even convincing argument. In positioning the dawn of a new era, the author focuses on a clutch of second-tier outfits (America West Airlines, The Body Shop, Manco, PC Connection, Preston, Brazil's Semco, Steelcase, etc.), confining blue-chip multinationals like Digital Equipment, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Motorola, Volvo, and Xerox to cameo roles. Not too surprisingly, the enterprises he presents as millennial are notable for their ethical behavior, environmental sensitivity, and educational concerns. In the author's opinion, moreover, model corporations share other hallmarks, e.g., adaptability, a commitment to teamwork, the capacity to reconcile opposites, having fully participating partners (meaning employees at all levels of erstwhile hierarchies), proficiency in self-renewal, receptivity to new ideas, offering compensation arrangements that are equitable as well as rewarding, showing a talent for innovation, and demonstrating social responsibility. Insofar as Garfield espouses stakeholder theory--the assumption that customers, creditors, hirelings, host communities, suppliers, and other interested parties have as great a claim on a commercial venture as its owners--his audit is deeply anticapitalistic. More to the point, his redistributive aspirations fall of their own weight for failure to take into adequate account the market forces that remain the primary engines of economic growth, job creation, and social progress. A vivid example of the muddle a clinical psychologist can make when he engages in rain-forest philosophy. The overlong text includes illustrative cartoons--not seen.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1991
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Business One Irwin