SEARCHING FOR THE SPIRIT OF ENTERPRISE

DISMANTLING THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY CORPORATION--LESSONS FROM GREAT ASIAN, EUROPEAN, AND AMERICAN ENTREPRENEURS

Forget downsizing, streamlining, and even restructuring: According to business-consultant Farrell, it's time to heave out entire corporate divisions and departments and to spin off what's left into down-and-dirty, turn-on-a-dime, small entrepreneurial ventures. The message here is: Big is bad. During the vast economic expansion of the 1980's, Fortune 500 companies' sales revenues grew by only one percent annually while employment declined by 21 percent—by 12.5 million jobs. In the 1990's, things look worse: Worldwide, big companies have experienced a 20 percent decline in profits and are going bankrupt daily. Farrell's prescription: Fire MBAs, whose expertise tends to be counting money rather than making it; dispatch consultants, whose heroes are less often founders of great businesses and more often stylish professors and theoreticians; and abandon organizational arrogance in favor of complete devotion to the product and the customer. Of course, to be devoted to the customer, you have to know who he or she is; Farrell argues that many big companies—including IBM, Xerox, and GM— don't, and must jettison functional departments in order to reidentify sales targets. To this end, big firms must develop a sense of mission (``picking the right customer/product strategy''); vision (``a clear picture of a specific set of customers''); a facility for high-speed innovation (``You can't maintain a sense of urgency, of very survival, when you're comfortable and fat''); and a staff that's highly inspired. Farrell is rather vague when it comes to explaining exactly how to entrepreneurialize corporate behemoths, but his many examples of entrepreneurialism (Disney, Matsushita, Messer Landscape, etc.) and anti-entrepreneurialism (in companies large and small) are food for analytic thought. A thoughtful and unusually well-written briefing that may prove more useful—and certainly more reinforcing—for small- business people than for Fortune 500 execs.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 1993

ISBN: 0-525-93573-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    finalist

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Critics Circle Finalist

CAPITAL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

A French academic serves up a long, rigorous critique, dense with historical data, of American-style predatory capitalism—and offers remedies that Karl Marx might applaud.

Economist Piketty considers capital, in the monetary sense, from the vantage of what he considers the capital of the world, namely Paris; at times, his discussions of how capital works, and especially public capital, befit Locke-ian France and not Hobbesian America, a source of some controversy in the wide discussion surrounding his book. At heart, though, his argument turns on well-founded economic principles, notably r > g, meaning that the “rate of return on capital significantly exceeds the growth rate of the economy,” in Piketty’s gloss. It logically follows that when such conditions prevail, then wealth will accumulate in a few hands faster than it can be broadly distributed. By the author’s reckoning, the United States is one of the leading nations in the “high inequality” camp, though it was not always so. In the colonial era, Piketty likens the inequality quotient in New England to be about that of Scandinavia today, with few abject poor and few mega-rich. The difference is that the rich now—who are mostly the “supermanagers” of business rather than the “superstars” of sports and entertainment—have surrounded themselves with political shields that keep them safe from the specter of paying more in taxes and adding to the fund of public wealth. The author’s data is unassailable. His policy recommendations are considerably more controversial, including his call for a global tax on wealth. From start to finish, the discussion is written in plainspoken prose that, though punctuated by formulas, also draws on a wide range of cultural references.

Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to work explaining the most complex of ideas, foremost among them the fact that economic inequality is at an all-time high—and is only bound to grow worse.

Pub Date: March 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-674-43000-6

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

more