Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith, author of The New Russians and The Power Game: How Washington Really Works, traveled around the world to research this study of America's economic competitiveness, and to see how other nations organize themselves differently. He found plenty of positive lessons for the U.S., and argues that the new global economic challenges demand adaptation. He illustrates the kind of innovation required in the fields of business and education with specific examples from the U.S. and from other countries. He praises Japanese and German encouragement of workers as "stakeholders" in their companies. Indeed, Smith recommends teamwork in all areas of society, and collaboration between government, private enterprise and schools to produce a more humane and productive setting for work and learning.
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From Publishers Weekly
To meet intensified economic global competition, American businesses and schools must adopt a new mind-set emphasizing teamwork, collaboration and long-term strategy, counsels Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Smith (The Russians). As examples of his mind-set, the former New York Times correspondent provides highly instructive case histories, including Ford Motor's restructuring, which gave more autonomy to individual employees and to work teams; Boeing's collaborative stance toward customers and suppliers; and Motorola's transformation from a hierarchical, command-driven system to one that invites innovation from all staff members and encourages continual education. Smith also favors public-private partnerships, pointing to the success of Sematech, a consortium of 14 high-tech companies and the federal government, launched by President Reagan in 1987 to rescue the U.S. computer chip industry. As for education, he gives high marks to work-study apprenticeships, in high schools from Wisconsin to Maine, designed to equip non-college-bound students with marketable skills; and he visits Central Park East, a Harlem public school built around smaller classes and close cooperation among teachers, students and families. Smith traveled extensively in Japan and Germany, and he believes that American firms can learn a lot from these nations' "consensus capitalism," power-sharing and "stakeholding," whereby banks, workers, institutional investors and home communities share in ownership of corporations or sit on corporate boards. His welcome book is a life raft we ignore at our peril.
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