MANAGING IN TURBULENT TIMES

Some directives for business and institutional managers, some global-think for the Executive Board. As of 1980, Drucker sees 25 years of predictable economic growth at an end, and new strategies called for. "Managing in turbulent times must begin with the adjustment of the enterprise's figures to inflation"; financial strength must be put before earnings; the decline of productivities (capital, time, knowledge, physical resources) must be reversed. The costs of staying in business are real costs, Drucker reasonably concludes, regardless of "record profits." Looking ahead (with some retrospective pats on the back), he broadens his scope. "Major technological changes" will allow businesses to be larger or smaller—and, properly, either leaders in a large market or specialists "preempting a small ecological niche" (for the untenability of an in-between position, witness Chrysler). But the great "sea-change" that Drucker anticipates is the result of population dynamics—a prospective labor shortage in the developed world coupled with an incipient labor surplus in the developing world. His answer is universal "production sharing": concentrating labor-intensive stages of production in the developing world. The objections to this trend—which range from the shrinkage of entry-level blue-collar jobs in the U.S. (see Levison, in the 3/1 issue) to the upping of underemployment in developing nations (see Hewlett, below)—have no place in Drucker's business-oriented picture. (He can't, for instance, see that Youngstown, Ohio's, redundant steel-workers have a problem: three years after the closing of their big mill, most of them were working—even if not for as much money, "and a good many part time.") But for his constituency, he's a reliable guide also to other trends—notably, growing economic intergration vis-Ã -vis growing political fragmentation and the smart business response (world-oriented management, a low profile, little local investment). And anyone puzzled by last year's Nobel prizes in economics will learn that Pittsburgh's Herbert Simon won his for showing that managers try to find minimum acceptable solutions—solutions that neither optimize nor maximize results, but "satisfice." So much, too, for Drucker's latest go at managing the world from a swivel chair: it satisfices.

Pub Date: April 30, 1980

ISBN: 0887306160

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1980

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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

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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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