RESTORING PROSPERITY

HOW WORKERS AND MANAGERS ARE FORGING A NEW CULTURE OF COOPERATION

Wilms, who teaches at UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, looks into the future of American manufacturing and concludes it could be made to work again in certain circumstances. Convinced that a strong manufacturing sector is an essential ingredient of domestic prosperity, Wilms has little patience with analysts who laud a postindustrial economy's promise. He nonetheless argues that the age of mass production is over, making it vital for management and labor to develop a new, appreciably less adversarial modus vivendi if they are to survive, let alone thrive, in the face of increasingly intense competition in outlets for capital and consumer goods throughout the Global Village. Over a span of more than five years, the author enjoyed apparently open access to four major California enterprises in various stages of reorganization or reform. Interviews were conducted at all levels of the corporate hierarchies and also on the assembly lines. His case studies encompassed the Douglas Aircraft subsidiary of McDonnel Douglas; a joint venture of South Korea's Pohang Iron & Steel Co. and US Steel, at the latter's Pittsburgh works; a passenger-car plan allying General Motors with Japan's Toyota; and Hewlett-Packard's Santa Clara division in the heart of Silicon Valley. Drawn as they are from firsthand observations, the author's findings carry considerable weight. Aware that the attitudinal changes required can be wrenching for all concerned, he goes on to address the new, more cooperative roles that could be played by employers and unions alike. High on his list of priorities is a mutual commitment to an in-house system of continuous learning, which can help a workforce adapt to the technological, financial, and market changes that may bring hard times overnight, even to companies long deemed world-class. Uncommonly sensible and convincingly documented perspsectives on the import of human resources in an era that places a premium on flexible, street-smart manufacturing. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8129-2030-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1996

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?

A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.

REIMAGINING CAPITALISM IN A WORLD ON FIRE

A well-constructed critique of an economic system that, by the author’s account, is a driver of the world’s destruction.

Harvard Business School professor Henderson vigorously questions the bromide that “management’s only duty is to maximize shareholder value,” a notion advanced by Milton Friedman and accepted uncritically in business schools ever since. By that logic, writes the author, there is no reason why corporations should not fish out the oceans, raise drug prices, militate against public education (since it costs tax money), and otherwise behave ruinously and anti-socially. Many do, even though an alternative theory of business organization argues that corporations and society should enjoy a symbiotic relationship of mutual benefit, which includes corporate investment in what economists call public goods. Given that the history of humankind is “the story of our increasing ability to cooperate at larger and larger scales,” one would hope that in the face of environmental degradation and other threats, we might adopt the symbiotic model rather than the winner-take-all one. Problems abound, of course, including that of the “free rider,” the corporation that takes the benefits from collaborative agreements but does none of the work. Henderson examines case studies such as a large food company that emphasized environmentally responsible production and in turn built “purpose-led, sustainable living brands” and otherwise led the way in increasing shareholder value by reducing risk while building demand. The author argues that the “short-termism” that dominates corporate thinking needs to be adjusted to a longer view even though the larger problem might be better characterized as “failure of information.” Henderson closes with a set of prescriptions for bringing a more equitable economics to the personal level, one that, among other things, asks us to step outside routine—eat less meat, drive less—and become active in forcing corporations (and politicians) to be better citizens.

A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5417-3015-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more