THE DECISION MAKERS: The Men and the Million-Dollar Moves Behind Today's Great Corporate Success Stories by Robert Heller

THE DECISION MAKERS: The Men and the Million-Dollar Moves Behind Today's Great Corporate Success Stories

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The British author of 1988's The Age of the Common Millionaire (and other sardonic such) here casts a cold eye on the iffy art of corporate decision-making. In his wide-ranging (albeit essentially sketchy) survey, Heller crams business decision-makers into six broad categories: competitors; expansionists; improvers; innovators; planners; and salvationists. Insofar as his lengthy text has a premise, it is that Western industry can regain outlets lost to Pacific Basin rivals via enterprising and decisive action. Whatever messages the author may wish to deliver, however, are largely lost in a welter of short-take yarns (most of which have been recycled from secondary sources) about commercial wins and losses. Worth noting in this context is the fact that Heller cherishes irony to a fault. By way of example, he offers a brief rundown on how Sony's Akio Morita (who, against strong in-house opposition, made the Walkman a global best-seller) came to back an also-ran in the VCR sweepstakes. In like vein, there's a cautionary tale about SmithKline, which developed the world's first billion-dollar drug (Tagamet, an ulcer therapeutic) and promptly invested the profits in Beckman Instruments, as problem-plagued an acquisition as ever battered an income statement. Included as well are obligatory swipes at the inertia of such bureaucratic leviathans as General Motors, the complaisance of rubber, stamp boards, the risks involved in ceding the low end of almost any market to Japanese suppliers, and other well-worn targets. In acerbic if often conflicting fashion, Heller also debits and credits the accounts of John Akers (IBM), John Egan (Jaguar), Lee Iacocca (Ford as well as Chrysler), billionaire Daniel Ludwig, Wall Street's Michael Milken, Rupert Murdoch (New Corp.), and a host of lesser lights. Armchair reportage that adds up to little more than an anecdotal patchwork, conspicuously deficient in unifying threads.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1989
Publisher: Dutton