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Masters of Management: How the Business Gurus and Their Ideas Have Changed the Worldfor Better and for Worse Hardcover – November 29, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“At last some common sense in the arena dominated by shark-swimming, chaos-seeking, megatrending, one-minute managing, highly effective people.” (New York Times Book Review)

“At last some common sense in the arena dominated by shark-swimming, chaos-seeking, megatrending, one-minute managing, highly effective people.” (Chicago Tribune)

“Brings clarity, humor, and historical perspective to a field that rewards gibberish, pomposity, and revolutionaries who want to throw away the pase (and the people that go with it).” (Wall Street Journal)

“Micklethwait and Wooldridge have done the near impossible: written a book about management—management—that is lively, engrossing, skeptical, fair-minded, and steeped in a rich sense of history.” (Joseph Nocera)

“Read it before buying any other business book.” (Rosabeth Moss Kanter)

“A gem of debunking.” (The Times (London))

“Simultaneously smart, insightful, terrifying and humorous… this revised incarnation should overtake its predecessor as the most bracing and relevant discussion of the world created by MBAs.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“This excellent book encourages thoughtful analysis of the growing management revolution; the combining of knowledge, learning, and innovation; the real meaning of globalization; and boardroom implications.” (Booklist)

“Without some failures, companies can’t ride the crest of the next wave of innovation. If you don’t seize opportunity, someone else will....Wooldridge uses the stories of small and large companies to drive home his “how to make it work” advice.” (Biz Books)

“Skillfully written and sprinkled with interesting observations.” (Wall Street Journal)

From the Back Cover

In 1996, having completed a two-year research study, longtime Economist journalists and editors John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge published The Witch Doctors, an explosive critique of management theory and its legions of evangelists and followers. The book became a bestseller, widely praised by reviewers and devoured by readers confused by the buzzwords and concepts the management “industry” creates. At the time, ideas about “reengineering,” “the search for excellence,” “quality,” and “chaos” both energized and haunted the world of business, just as “the long tail,” “black swans,” “the tipping point,” “the war for talent,” and “corporate responsibility” do today.

For decades, since the rise of MBA programs on campuses across the country, the field of management has operated in a dubious space. Many of its framers clamor for respect within the academy while making millions of dollars pedaling ideas, some brilliant and some nonsensical, in speeches, consulting arrangements, and books.

Although The Witch Doctors was a damning critique (“a scalpel job,” according to the Wall Street Journal), it also argued that much of management theory is valuable—making companies more effi-cient and productive, improving organizational life for workers, and providing sound ways for companies to innovate while defending more entrenched plans. Building upon all that made the original such a phenomenal success, this fully revised and updated edition, Masters of Management, takes into account the rise of the Internet, the growing power of emerging markets, the Great Recession of 2008, and the more recent developments in management theory. The result is an indispensable volume for any manager.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; Updated edition (December 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061771139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061771132
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,297,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on December 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Author Wooldridge, editor at the Economist, profiles a number of management thinkers and wonders whether the variation between their thinking is a sign of management theory's 'immaturity.' Eventually, however, he concludes that this variation is a sign of 'the profession's vitality' and openness to outside ideas. He should have stuck with his first inclination - as a result, he unwittingly ends up adding to the pile of management theory sophistry that confuses readers and that he previously decried in 'The Witch Doctors.'

I seriously began studying management theory in the early 1970s at Arizona State University (ASU) - an entity unfortunately trapped in the 1930s and the 'Human Relations' school of thought. (Remember the experiments at Western Electric's plant - varying lighting, etc., and observing the impact on productivity? Surprisingly, productivity continually rose - hence, the conclusion that interest in workers was the key. It was named the 'Hawthorne Effect.') While ASU (and presumably others) pursued this and other 'warm feelings,' Japan instead developed 'The Toyota Production System' that simultaneously provided significant and sustained improvements in quality, productivity, and response time, and used it to decimate first American auto firms, then steel producers, etc. Amazingly, at the same time Toyota was also successfully pursuing Christensen's 'Disruptive Innovation' theory - again, a key development that management theorists at ASU were also oblivious to, and probably prior to even Harvard Business School even having recognized what was occuring.

Meanwhile, more and more books were also published that summarized 'leadership/management' secrets of successful sports coaches - the most prominent being John Wooden, head basketball coach at UCLA.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Priscilla Burgess on February 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Business books are published at such a pace that it's impossible to keep
up with the latest ideas trumpeted by multitudes of gurus, professors,
and CEOs all contradicting each other and all insisting their one idea
is the only one you'll ever need. Different business schools embrace
different experts, preferably those on staff. Walk into any manager's
office and scan the bookshelves. You'll find more books on business than
Amazon has on advice for personal relationships. How can you find your
way through the maze of advice?

Easy--Adrian Wooldridge's book Masters of Management is a guide through
every aspect of management theories, strategies, gurus' credibility, and
CEO reminiscences. He has the uncanny ability to bring clarity to the
ideas floating in the vast ocean of business ideas, advice, and their
history, and future. The book contains more useful information than most
MBA programs, albeit in bite-sized pieces. Bibliographies for each
chapter refer you to more detailed information about the topics covered.

The Masters of Management is dense with information. Complex topics are
broken into two to four main points, making it easy to manage the load.
Ideas like globalization, business process redesign, or frugal
innovation are explained as inevitable, a fad, or a brilliant concept.
As the CEO of a start-up, all the information is timely and helpful.
Ideas that we are not ready to implement provide food for thought; his
opinions on globalization and Corporate Social Responsibility help us
with our current direction.

Wooldridge writes for The Economist, a periodical that produces the best
English-language journalism in the world. It shows.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
About 15 years ago I stumbled with a copy of Witch Doctors, and what a great book it was. I loved then the to-the-point style of the authors, and went to read from them 'The Company' and 'Right Nation'.

Despite Wooldridge writing this one on his own (Micklethwaite writes only the foreword), this is a major step forward from Witch Doctors, revised after all the changes in the last decade and a half (the dot-com-bubble implosion, the global financial crisis, and many upcoming 'gurus' showing up).

The book offers interesting perspectives and opposing views to many of the fads in management, including some cold assessments on Malcolm Gladwell, Thomas Friedman and others.

I found in the book key perspectives (that keep both feet in the ground) about some of the great ideas and contributions from the management 'science', and liked how it exposes the BS that permeates some of these ideas
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book for both MBA students and the budding entrepreneur alike. It's often difficult distilling the technical knowledge that's crammed into you through university with the creative spirit and drive that fuels success. This book helps not only understand the history of management theory and the techniques of different managers, but also demonstrates how one's ability must be tied to shrewd planning, not just talent alone.

The detractors of this book will point out the fact that there are differing management theory 'branches', if you will; but they're missing the point of this book. No manager of firms large or small should take theory at face value -- the drive to constantly monitor and develop new algorithms improve efficiency. This book makes you aware of this need; while some purists will insist on certain studies or certain academic studies; I believe that the most successful individuals in industry are those that are able to meld intuition and theory towards product creation and management.

Written by the editor of the Economist, this book provides what can be described as an opinion -- and it is rather well versed at this venture, I would argue; I think this would be a phenomenal beginning to exploring a multitude of opinions and ideas that one should keep mindful of. Why? Because of the history it provides, and the narrative that you can see forming -- the author doesn't prevent you from arguing against his presentation of the data -- you are free to do so. However, he presents an argument that is held by many, and is worthy of noting at any point in one's career, whether it's a high school student that wishes to create a startup in his or her coming years, or a seasoned manager at a Fortune 500 company.

A good reminder of history, and a lesson in humility -- I think this book will find a good place in my reference shelf for sure!
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