Posts Tagged ‘Management’

Book Review: While America Aged …

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

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Lowenstein, Roger. While America aged : how pension debts ruined General Motors, stopped the NYC subways, bankrupted San Diego, and loom as the next financial crisis. Penguin Press, 2008.

My sister is a salaried engineer for a company that was spun off from General Motors. She emailed recently:

Yesterday a man in sales with 25 years, and a reputation of being a very hard worker, was “let go.” The rumor is there will be 52 more salaried people let go between now and the end of next week. Interestingly, we found out that they just hired 11 salaried people. People hired after 1995 do not get the same retirement benefits as those of us hired before 1995. They are firing people who have been here a long time and replacing them with hirees with fewer retirement benefits.”

Using three case studies, this new book in the Ford Library discusses the pension crisis that is looming over American industry. Author Roger Lowenstein begins in Detroit in the 1940’s, where the UAW bargained for pensions in labor contracts. General Motors complied because promises for future benefits did not incur costs in the present. Pension and health care costs for retirees would not come due until many years in the future. Over time, the union’s success brought the company to the brink of bankruptcy as the number of retirees grew, the benefits grew and those promises came due.

Lowenstein also discusses two other cases, transport workers in New York City, whose union led a strike in 2005 that brought the city to a standstill, and the pension crisis in San Diego, sparked by city officials who doled out benefits to city workers but declined to impose higher taxes. The final chapter in the book suggests changes in the ways corporations, unions and the government manage benefits, paying for them in the present, instead of charging them to a future generation.

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

MIT Case Studies Online

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

MIT Sloan is now offering free case studies through their new web site called MIT Sloan Teaching Innovation Resources. The case studies cover the following management areas: industry evolution, sustainability, and global entrepreneurship.

Book Review: The 4 – Hour Workweek

Monday, December 8th, 2008

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The 4-hour workweek : escape 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich by Timothy Ferriss. Crown Publishers, 2008.

This book promotes an alternative way to look at life and work. Ferris begins by describing the New Rich as people who live the millionaire lifestyle of complete freedom but have not yet earned the million dollars. The New Rich use their time effectively and work relatively few hours in positions that correspond to their strengths. Having read The World is Flat, the New Rich telecommute from home or remote locations, hiring third world employees by the hour to do boring time consuming tasks. In the end, the New Rich are able to live their entire lives doing what they want to do as opposed to what they are obligated to do.

This book offers some good ideas, such as managing one’s time. Ferris also questions whether people find meaning in buying things or preparing to buy things. He suggests that people take mini-retirements throughout their lives instead of working at meaningless jobs for 30 years, saving retirement to the end. The emphasis is still on making “a ton of money,” but to Ferris, this ton of money is for specific reasons.

Ferris regularly goes overboard with boasting and exaggerating, such that “snake oil salesman” comes to mind. Yet if you don’t take it too seriously, this inspirational book is a fun read.

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

Kiss, Bow, Or Shake Hands: Now a Database!

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

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Ford Library presents a new database based on the widely popular series Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands: The Bestselling Guide to Doing Business in More Than Sixty Countries.

This new database also includes Dun & Bradstreet’s Guide to Doing Business Around the World and articles written for publications like Industry Week and American Way Magazine, as well as the 2008 World Holiday and Time Zone Guide for over 100 countries.

Connect to Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands

E-books on Culture, Business Etiquette, and Global Business Practices: (These e-books are available through the Duke online catalog via NetLibrary.)

  • Managing Complexity in Global Organizations (IMD Executive Development Series): Drawing together insights from across the expert faculty, Managing Complexity in the Global Organization presents IMD’s framework on how to understand complexity and its four key drivers (diversity; interdependence; ambiguity and flux), along with solutions on specific issues in a variety of functions, industries and markets. The focus is on providing practical solutions based on real-life examples.
  • (more…)

Book Review: Rules to Break …

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

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Rules to break and laws to follow : how your business can beat the crisis of short-termism by Don Peppers & Martha Rogers. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

Martha Rogers, adjunct professor at the Fuqua School, has written a new book with her business partner Don Peppers, about the dangers of “short-termism,” or the obsession with making quarterly profits at the expense of long term customer value.

After arguing that customers are a company’s most scarce resource and the true source of long term value, the authors focus on the principle of trust. Customers choose businesses that they can trust, and long term business success requires a focus on keeping that trust and on developing business relationships.

A successful company’s employees earn their customer trust by treating their customers fairly, but employees need the right tools, training and authority for taking action. By developing a corporate culture that is centered on earning and keeping customer trust, a company gains the best chance to succeed.

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

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Book Review: The Big Squeeze

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

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The big squeeze : tough times for the American worker by Steven Greenhouse. Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.

For MBA students, the news over the past decade has been good. Employment opportunities have increased. Executive salaries have risen sharply. Corporate profits have soared. But for millions of workers, the news has been bad. For many, wages have stagnated. Heath and pension benefits have been cut back. And job security has disappeared.

While the American economy, corporate profits and worker productivity grew robustly, the median income for nonelderly households remained flat. Worker productivity climbed 60% but the hourly wage increased only 1% after inflation. In the economic expansion, the size of the pie increased, but the worker did not get a bigger piece.

The Big Squeeze explains what has been happening in the workplace. Weaving personal stories of workers with economic facts and data, author Greenhouse, labor correspondent for the New York Times, creates a disturbing picture of the economic environment for workers.

Book Review: New Titles on Peter Drucker

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

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Cohen, William A. A Class with Drucker: The lost lessons of the world’s greatest management teacher. AMACOM, 2007.

Edersheim, Elizabeth Haas. The Definitive Drucker. McGraw-Hill, 2007.

Peter Drucker is widely respected as one of the great thinkers on management. Throughout his career as teacher, writer, and philosopher he inspired students and business leaders alike with countless books and articles, lectures in the classroom, and informal conversations with friends and colleagues. Since his death in November 2005, several new books have been published, highlighting his wisdom, creativity and humor.

In A Class with Drucker, William Cohen shares stories and insights into Peter Drucker’s teaching methods, his inspiring ideas and his life experiences. He also relates personal anecdotes about Drucker and his life. As a PhD student at Claremont University, Cohen studied under Drucker, who was a gifted and passionate teacher. Cohen maintained a lifelong friendship with his mentor and created a personal tribute to the man who changed his life.


Book Review: The Future of Management

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

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Hamel, Gary. The future of management. Harvard Business School Press, 2007.

Beginning with the premise that long term business success is fueled by management innovation — new ways of mobilizing talent, allocating resources and building strategies — this book is about changing the current management model based on control and efficiency.

Author and consultant Gary Hamel describes a need for bold new management principles. When these principles are applied systemically throughout an organization and are part of an ongoing program of progress, they convey a competitive advantage. Using these principles, the author shows how to build a company that is continually renewing itself, how to make innovation everyone’s job and how to create a company where everyone gives their best.

Using examples from Whole Foods and Google, the author shows how his principles of management innovation operate in real time. He also discusses how established companies like General Electric, Procter & Gamble, and Whirlpool have reengineered their management processes.

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