Book Review: What were they thinking?

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Pfeffer, Jeffrey. What were they thinking? : unconventional wisdom about management. Harvard Business School Press, 2007.

Why do companies that are led by intelligent and dedicated people make so many mistakes? Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeffer shows that executives often make decisions that have unintended consequences, because employees and customers respond in ways that make the situation worse for the company. As an example, relying on incentive pay is usually harmful to the company in the long run. And extracting wage concessions from labor is counterproductive.

Companies also make mistakes by using simplistic models of people and organizations that are not realistic, which leads them to make bad decisions. And companies overcomplicate straightforward choices when sometimes the answer is obvious.

In 28 short and engaging chapters selected from the author’s column in Business 2.0, this book presents critical topics on leadership, organizational strategy and public policy. Numerous examples, data and insights challenge conventional beliefs and accepted management wisdom.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business. All rights reserved.

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