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Paths to Power: How Insiders and Outsiders Shaped American Business Leadership Hardcover – January 4, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (January 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422101983
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422101988
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,343,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"... describes the backgrounds of...leaders - refreshingly, many are less well known figures - and how factors such as birthplace, gender, race, class, religion and education helped them to positions of power." -- Financial Times, December 20, 2006

"Paths to Power offers a useful way to think about how much economic mobility there really is in America and how it has evolved." -- The Washington Post, February 18, 2007

From the Back Cover

“In the early decades of the twentieth century, an invisible sign hung on the office doors of major American CEOs: “Reserved for White Males.” In small type, it added, “Strong preference for right blood type, religion, region, and connections.” Fortunately, the small type has now been erased and the big type is fading. This masterful study of changing leadership patterns is destined to be a landmark.”

—David Gergen, Director, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and author, Eyewitness to Power

“Paths to Power is a major study, both penetrating and wide-ranging, of the forces that create effective leadership in the business world today. It is especially impressive in its analysis of the central roles of religion, race, and gender, and other factors in producing top leadership in the twentieth century.”

—James MacGregor Burns, Woodrow Wilson Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, Williams College

“Paths to Power makes fascinating reading for all who have been to the top, those who are aspiring to reach the top, and all MBA students who are about to begin their careers to reach the top.”

--Thomas Phillips, former Chairman and CEO, Raytheon Company


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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I recently read In Their Time, co-authored by Anthony Mayo and Nitin Nohria, in combination with this book whose subtitle correctly indicates what Mayo, Nohria, and Laura Singleton set out to explain: how "insiders" and "outsiders" of big business (as Michael Useem explains in an insightful Foreword) presided "over our dominant organizations" and, in process, examine "which pathways lead to the apex - or which do not" for those who would also achieve such dominance.

Rather than limiting their attention to a set number of exemplary leaders - in chronological order -- and then devoting a separate chapter to each, taking a linear approach to the material, the co-authors chose to examine the evolution of 20th century business leadership in terms of the ten decades, assigning to each following the first chapter an appropriate component (birthplace, nationality, religion, education, class, gender and race, etc.) while frequently cross-referencing throughout the entire century. For example, they juxtapose comparable individuals such as James Stillman's presidency of National City Bank (1891-1909) and Sanford "Sandy" Weill's of Citigroup (that National City Bank eventually became) a century later.

Mayo, Nohria, and Singleton's role In Paths to Power is more that of cultural anthropologists than as biographers or even business historians. They create a social and economic context within a 100-year framework as they examine what separated outsiders from insiders in business leadership in the 20th century. In the city where I live, we have a number of outdoor markets at which slices of fresh fruit are offered as samples of the produce available. In that same spirit, I frequently include brief excerpts from a book to help those who red my review to get a "taste.
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Format: Hardcover
What I like and agree with in this book is the hidden truth that to find the path to power and get to the top, you have to be part of the inner circle.

What I don't like and don't agree with is that finding the path to power and getting to the inner circle is purely a matter of things the individual cant control --what social class their father was in, whether they went to an ivy league school, their race, religion, gender etc.

While there is probably truth in the authors argument, and facts carefully selected to support a conclusion jumped too early, I think the net effect will be discouraging for many people, or push them into a state of profound resignation.

There is another book by Robert Caro,called Path to Power about Lyndon Johnson, who grew up as a dirt poor boy from the Hill Country of Texas, without education, and who the patrician Kennedy, Harvard educated boys hated --who beat the odds, through ambition, super human effort, and maniacal drive to not only become Senator but President of the United States

For example, there is a story in the book about LBJ hearing FRD was landing at in a sea port in Texas, rushed to the dock and strong armed his way into the photograph so he could be seen as an insider, not an outsider

Another example that stands in stark contrast to the authors dismaying conclusion is that of Steve Jobs, who grew up as an adopted son, in a 1/2 Jewish lower middle class family, who dropped out of Reed College, studied with a guru in India in bare feet. It was not caste and calling but the guru urging that he give up the idea of being a zen master, and become a business man.

Like Johnson, Mr. Jobs, beat the odds through super human drive, game changing ideas, and passion for great design.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is extremely valuable for young people who want to succeed in business. There are several essential social and economic contexts what separated outsiders from insiders in America's business leadership in the 20th century and are continuing shape business leadership in the 21st century. These are also social and economic backgrounds impacting business leadership internationally though in different degrees. Look for them in the book and you will benefit a lot from understanding them. This book is especially helpful in planning a top-notch career.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a very good review of the events and actions that shaped some of the greatest business leaders. It discusses the roles of family, religion, ethnicity, education, etc. and how their importance has dramatically changed over the last century.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By skate10 on March 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
An incredibly well written analysis of the people who have helped shaped America's business world through the last century. To gauge the future you must have an understanding of the past.
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