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Finding Time: How Corporations, Individuals, and Families Can Benefit from New Work Practices (Collection on Technology and Work) Paperback – October 30, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0801484452 ISBN-10: 0801484456
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Editorial Reviews


"There is often a negative effect on family life when professionals work long hours. Perlow sets out to determine if, in spite of the personal consequences, the corporation benefits when professionals work long hours. . . . The book tells the sad tale of a workforce that suffers the consequences of long hours under the assumption that accommodation to work demands will bring both personal and corporate success. . . . The author concludes that with long work hours there is so much wasted time through interruptions, time taken to help others or to be helped, and a constant crisis mentality that no one benefits. Perlow gives advice for improving the situation, including a shift from individual to team achievement."―Booklist

"Using single men, working mothers and working fathers as examples, Perlow presents employees' chronicles in which they detail everything they do from when they get up to arrival at the office to lunchtime to going to bed. . . . While there are real difficulties―working mothers, rather than fathers, still have more responsibilities at home and will stay home with a sick child―there are also issues of perception. Driven, successful people are perceived to work long hours, to expand their workdays to include formal and impromptu discussions. So, while some employees requested flexible schedules, flextime seemed to hinder an employee's chances for promotion. . . . As a portrait of what is an all-too-common situation―employees finding there aren't enough hours in the day to meet their work and family demands―this is an interesting portrait."―Publishers Weekly

"It's not how hard you work, it's how you work―this is the idea of Finding Time. . . As long as 'efficiency and effectiveness are simply not valued to the same degree as physical presence and sacrifices in life outside of work,' Perlow suggest, both corporation and employees will suffer."―Judith Newman, New York Times Book Review

"This book is an elegant and readable argument for consideration of a real and contemporary social problem."―Monash MT Eliza Business Review

"Perlow is an excellent storyteller. She captivates her readers through vivid and poignant accounts of the lives of the engineers, at times letting the anguished voices of the spouses be heard. . . . This well-written book addresses an important issue in today's workplace where people are being asked to work both harder and smarter. . . . Finding Time is worthwhile reading for a number of audiences. For researchers, it provides an excellent example of qualitative research. In addition, this book reminds individuals who are involved in implementing flexible work policies that, to be effective, such policies should be consistent with the organization's reward structure and cultural norms. It suggests to managers that they may wish to rethink their notions of productivity and what makes for a productive employee. For individuals whose work requires both individual effort and interaction with others, this book offers an innovative and practical solution for combating constant interruptions. Finally, to all of us, . . . this book presents an interesting opportunity to reconsider our personal definitions of success and what (or who) we are willing to sacrifice in the process of achieving success. Why win the (rat) race if there is no one at the finish line with you?"―Personnel Psychology

"Perlow's evidence from her extensive fieldwork for this book is reason enough to read it. . . . Finding Time will give the reader a close look at engineering work inside a large corporation and much to think about. The book is accessible to a broad range of readers, and it would be useful in graduate and undergraduate courses on work-related matters."―Clifford L. Staples, Review of Radical Political Economics, September 1999

"Perlow's book goes beyond the usual 'solutions' to work/family conflicts to offer innovative and practical solutions that benefit both men and women at work and at home."―Joanne Martin, Stanford University (Business)

"This study makes explicit a set of time dynamics that have been tough to grasp. The result is a vivid portrait of the vicious circles that often undermine our naive belief that time is something we can manage."―Karl Weick, University of Michigan

"In her brilliant, qualitative study of the high pressure work culture of engineers, Leslie Perlow gives us a picture of workers in a chronic sense of crisis, pelted by interruptions and too busy to help colleagues. This work culture sucks time out of workers' home lives, and―here's the surprise―it also hurts the bottom line. This is must reading for anyone who manages workers, and for any worker who's managed."―Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work

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Product Details

  • Series: Collection on Technology and Work
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: ILR Press (October 30, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801484456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801484452
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,577,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Leslie Perlow is the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School. Her goal is to identify ways organizations can alter their work practices to benefit both productivity and employees' well-being. She works closely with organizations to implement these changes - and study their impact. Trained as an ethnographer, she is a keen observer of the micro-dynamics of work - how people spend their time and with whom they interact - and the consequences for organizations and individuals.

Perlow is the author of two previous books, Finding Time: How Corporations, Individuals and Families Can Benefit from New Work Practices (1997) and When You Say Yes But Mean No: How Silencing Conflict Wrecks Relationships and Companies... and What You Can Do about It (2003). She has also published numerous articles in journals including Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science and the Harvard Business Review. Prior to her academic career, she worked as a management consultant with Corporate Decisions, Inc. She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in economics and received her Ph.D. in Organization Studies from MIT. Perlow lives in Newton, Mass. with her husband and their three young daughters, who serve as a daily reminder of all that is involved in successfully integrating work and family.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
While this book explores work-family issues, it also gives concrete suggestions about how to improve management processes and allow workers more personal time without decreasing productivity. Essentially, the thesis of the book is that workers that can work uninterrupted for a significant period each day are more productive and efficient. This thesis is supported by a study done by the author at a Fortune 500 company named "Ditto" (probably Xerox in real life).
However, a depressing aspect of the book is that once higher productivity is achieved, Ditto Corp just piles on more work! Anyone who has worked in a high-stress, tight-deadline environment will be able to identify with the situations in this book.
In terms of action orientation, I found this book better than "Time Bind" by Arlie Hochschild. It also leaves out the liberal politics. Give it as an anonymous gift to the the CEO of your company!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Vivek Dixit on July 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
Time Management skills are essential for successful people the book deals with practical techniques, which have helped the leading people in business reach the pinnacles of their careers. The skills explained in the book helps you to become reliable and effective and show you how to identify and focus on the activities that give you the greatest returns by explaining goal setting, which is a vitally important skill for achieving what you want to achieve with your life. It is neatly summed up in the Pareto Principle, or the "80:20 Rule". This argues that typically 80% of unfocussed effort generates only 20% of results. The remaining 80% of results are achieved with only 20% of the effort. While the ratio is not always 80:20, this broad pattern of a small proportion of activity generating non-scalar returns recurs so frequently as to be the norm in many areas. It also talks about issues like learn to say no, learn to prioritize, combine several activities, doing subordinate's work, doing the work of others, scheduling projects, monitoring staff, and setting long-term objectives. The absence of personal time management is characterized by last minute rushes to meet deadlines, days, which seem somehow to slip unproductively by, crises, which loom unexpected from nowhere. This sort of environment leads to inordinate stress and degradation of performance. Poor time management is often a symptom of over confidence: techniques, which used to work with small projects and workloads, are simply reused with large ones. However, inefficiencies, which were insignificant in the small role, are ludicrous in the large. You cannot drive a motor bike like a bicycle, nor can you manage a supermarket-chain like a market stall.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I work for a Tech company in Silicon Valley. It's been about 10 years since this book was written and it's amazing to me how little has changed since then. The work culture in Silicon Valley corporations mirrors that of "Ditto" corporation. People feel obligated to work long hours while sacrificing their personal lives. To me, reading this book has been an eye-opening experience. I am now aware of the havoc that the work/life balance equation can unleash on people's lives. I see shades of the characters covered in the book in my colleagues and friends. Awareness of these issues is the first step in defining your personal values at work.

Good job, Leslie!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had to get this book for a class at the very last minute. The book was being sold very super cheap, so it was a great buy, but I asked and paid for the expedited shipping and it still arrived about eight days after I purchased it, rather than the three days I was expecting. This wasn't very helpful for my class, but the book it in great condition. I would recommend not waiting till the last minute to get the book.
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Finding Time: How Corporations, Individuals, and Families Can Benefit from New Work Practices (Collection on Technology and Work)
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