MAKING AMERICA WORK: Productivity and Responsibility by James O'Toole

MAKING AMERICA WORK: Productivity and Responsibility

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Some sensible guidelines, aimed largely at ""corporate leaders,"" for increasing worker-productivity--plus some right-minded suggestions for better utilizing ""America's human resources"" (which those same corporate leaders may balk at). O'Toole, a professor of management (Univ. of Southern California) and writer on work-related issues, makes two basic assumptions: that long-run remedies for low productivity are to be found in the work-place, not in ""national economic policy""; that management practices should change to reflect changes in the nature and expectations of the work-force. Thus, he recommends building on the positive values of ""non-traditional' workers--diversity, flexibility, choice, participation, etc. (""which may be more appropriate to the economic challenges of the '80s than the values of their parents"")--and, at the same time, ""minimizing the effects of such negative values as entitlements, narcissism, and irresponsibility."" Or, overall, allowing workers to assume greater responsibility, to share in the risks--and also, where feasible, to share in the profits. Diverse examples of mainstream work-place reforms illustrate the possibilities of meeting the diversity, flexibility, etc. criteria; a more systematic, rigorous discussion, also with examples, sets forth the possibilities of worker-ownership (and its limitations as presently conceived). O'Toole then turns his sights on ""dominant managerial culture,"" deeming it out of synch with the changing economic environment--and, in essence, with workers' productive values. His policy recommendations on utilizing human resources then presume ""a new slow-growth economy"" directed toward ""a just society""--and here, re women, older workers, minorities, he's apt to run into trouble. But for those who share his desire to reform corporations ""so that they meet the humanistic and environmental goals"" propounded by Schumacher and such (and who believe it possible), he has some practical encouragement to offer.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1981
Publisher: Continuum