WHEN GIANTS LEARN TO DANCE by Rosabeth Moss Kanter


Mastering the Challenge
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Having dealt with stagnating bureaucracies in Men and Women of the Corporation (1977) and the rewards available to enterprises willing as well as able to capitalize on technological advances in 1983's The Change Masters, Harvard Business School Professor Kanter now turns her attention to the perceived problems of what she calls post-entrepreneurial management. If the results of the author's inquiries are unabashedly iffy, she offers a wealth of lucid commentary that represents a welcome contrast to quick-fix guides promising results without commitment or effort. Though adapted and applicable to the times, much of what Kanter has to say about the difficulties that many of America's elephantine corporations have experienced keeping pace in an increasingly competitive global marketplace will strike even casual observers as familiar. Drawing on case studies compiled al over 50 consequential companies (AT&T. Delta Air Lines, Digital Equipment, Eastman Kodak, Ford. Navistar, et al.), she concludes that successful multinationals must pursue a middle course that effectively integrates aggressive (even venturesome) innovation and focused planning for the longer run. As archetypes of these two extremes, the author posits "cowboys" (go-for-broke mavericks) and "corporcrats" (their stick-in-the-mud antitheses). Convulsed by restructurings, divestitures, or allied upheavals and energized by entrepreneurial dynamism, the enterprising organizations Kanter belives capable of surviving and thriving in the next decade will be leaner, meaner operations; in particular, they will be less hierarchical, more responsive to opportunity and challenge, and receptive to strategic alliances. In human terms, she cautions, the price of progress could prove steep, meaning career-minded individuals should look to professional skills, not paternal employers, for job security. While Kanter refuses to chart a definitive path for latter-day executives, she provides them a detailed map of the future's likely ups and downs. Overall, then, a standout in an overcrowded field.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1989
ISBN: 671-61733-8
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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