Breaking the Chains of Traditional Business Thinking
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 American business schools fail to produce savvy international corporate managers because the schools' philosophical and technical biases are narrow, Cartesian-based, and one-dimensional--and so don't provide the tools to master increasingly complex marketing and production problems. So say business-school professors Mitroff (USC) and Linstone (Portland State Univ.) in a rigorous but often murky study of the thought processes that govern business decision- making. Old-style systems-analysis theory goes like this: To fashion a decision that's objectively correct, experts must huddle and reach an agreement based on fact or logic, or else a single expert must mediate among ``multiple realities'' or referee outright conflicts. In what the authors call their ``new thinking'' or ``unbounded systems thinking,'' all points of view and definitions of a business problem (why GM doesn't sell more cars, for instance) carry equal weight, especially if they fall into any of three categories: the ``Technical Perspective'' (which views a corporation as an engineered machine that must be properly streamlined and maintained); the ``Organizational Societal Perspective'' (which treats a corporation as a set of hierarchical networks made up of social and political relationships); or the ``Personal Perspective'' (which asks how things look from the point of view of any or all of the corporation's employees, customers, or suppliers). Known respectively as ``T,'' ``O,'' and ``P,'' these perspectives are fitted into various problem-solving formulas, such as T+O(us)+P(w,us)+P(s,us)=X?; and these are loosely applied to business disasters such as Exxon Valdez or Bhopal. The authors claim that such technological horrors result from excessive reliance on ``T,'' or engineering/statistical perspective; if planners had taken into account ``P,'' or personnel weaknesses and other factors, the crises might have been averted. Hindsight is 20/20, but the authors' prose and prescriptions are far from clear, marred by bad grammar, jargon, and patches of supreme self-evidence. (Five line illustrations.)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-19-507783-0
Page count: 172pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1992