WORKPLACE 2000: The Revolution Reshaping American Business by Joseph H. & Henry P. Conn Boyett

WORKPLACE 2000: The Revolution Reshaping American Business

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An uneven but provocative appreciation of the socioeconomic forces that promise to produce convulsive change in the US workplace by the turn of the century and beyond. Consultants Boyett and Conn have no great expectations for the millenium. By their frequently breathless account, technological breakthroughs and more intense competition in global markets will make gainful employment of any kind an increasingly demanding proposition, with job security and opportunities for advancement in shorter supply in the near future. Rugged individualism could come a cropper as well, they imply, since corporate colossi have begun breaking up into smaller, semi-autonomous entities that place a premium on teamwork, peer pressures, and group accountability. On the plus side, Boyett and Conn foresee substantial rewards for those who have or develop the skills for tomorrow's brave new world. In addition to incentive compensation, they argue, hired hands will have primary responsibility for running the show while once-authoritarian executives will play supporting roles. Although the authors cite illustrative case studies (many drawn from their Atlanta-based practice), they concede that large segments of American industry and labor could be in for the commerical equivalent of future shock. Among other problems, Boyett and Conn point to a paucity of visionary leadership, coupled with a misguided faith in traditional management theory. Deficiencies in a domestic educational system could also prove stumbling blocks; resolutely anti-MBA, they advise would-be survivors to major in liberal arts and to engage in self-improvement programs through extension courses or allied means. For all their caveats, Boyett and Conn close with an upbeat, flag-waving scenario in which Harley-Davidson, Sara Lee, Wal-Mart, and other enterprises enlightened enough to embrace employee-involvement principles will restore the US to world-class economic eminence. It's difficult to figure out whom Boyett and Conn are addressing: Their awesomely assured pronouncements do not fit the mold of conventional management manuals, while the text's reliance on scholarly and professional source materials would seem to limit its appeal for a blue-collar or even a general readership. Nor do marketplace realities yet support the authors' apparent assumption that bigness invariably equates with incapacity and inefficiency. These cavils apart, an intriguing assessment of organizational trends already in evidence.

Pub Date: Jan. 29th, 1990
Publisher: Dutton