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Spark: How Old-Fashioned Values Drive a Twenty-First-Century Corporation: Lessons from Lincoln Electric's Unique Guaranteed Employment Program Hardcover – Bargain Price, February 23, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Frank Koller has done a remarkable job of presenting both an economic and a moral argument for the value to society of the unusual policies followed with great success by Lincoln Electric for over a hundred years. The book is excellent in both the historical overview and the numerous interviews with current and past employees. There is much that modern management can learn about the benefits to employees, customers, shareholders, and communities by examining the role of the ‘old fashioned’ culture of Lincoln Electric.”
Thomas A. Kochan, George M. Bunker Professor of Management and Co-Director, MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research
“A timely book, well researched and well written. Business, labor, and government leaders would do well to read Spark as they search for more equitable and sustainable principles for rebuilding trust in management, and getting compensation once again growing in tandem with productivity and profits.”
“A fascinating glimpse into this remarkable yet, in many ways, ordinary organization, which survives, even thrives, in a sunset industry where overseas outsourcing is the norm.... Instructive and heartening, this book offers a proven model for companies that not only want healthy bottom lines but also satisfied, dedicated employees”
Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics, Harvard University “In a time of recession, massive layoffs, and Wall Street bailouts, Spark tells the remarkable story of the better side of American capitalism: Lincoln Electric, the billion dollar manufacturer that succeeds by treating its employees the right way. This book should be required reading for everyone who wants to make the economy work for us all, from the President and his economic advisors to business leaders and employees everywhere.”
Harvard Business Review
“A fascinating depiction of a rare human resource practice in a company with a long and hearty track record—food for thought for the rest of us.”
Wall Street Journal
"Striking … against the backdrop of the layoff mania that has claimed more than eight million American jobs since late 2007.”
More About the Author
Based in Washington, D.C. from 1998 to 2005, Koller crisscrossed the US many times - covering Presidential election campaigns, the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, Capital Hill during the Clinton and Bush years, financial crises such as the Enron debacle, environmental battles in New Mexico, hurricanes in Florida, urban sprawl in Oregon and cowboy poets in southwestern Missouri. He also traveled regularly to South America, chronicling economic developments in Argentina and Brazil.
From 1985 until 1998, Koller was on the road in Asia - reporting from Jakarta (where he lived for three years), Seoul, Rangoon, Phnom Penh, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Hanoi and almost everywhere in between. Koller covered the 1989 democracy protests in Tienanmen Square, the Asian economic meltdown in the late 1990s, the fall of Indonesia's President Suharto in 1998 and Cambodia's desperate struggle to recover from the Killing Fields. During those years, he also taught journalists in Indonesia and Cambodia on behalf of the Canadian Journalists for Freedom of Expression and the Asian Institute of Broadcasting.
His work has been recognized with awards from the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Nurses Association among others.
Before stumbling into journalism in the early 1980s, Koller was a professional jazz musician, composer and recording artist. His 1980 album Single Malt received rave reviews in Canada: The Globe and Mail praised him as "an excellent guitarist", while Canadian Musician magazine called him a "session man extraordinaire." Koller earned a Master's Degree in Transportation Systems from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after graduating from Carleton University in Ottawa in Civil Engineering. It is widely acknowledged, however, that he must never be given any hand tools with the hope that he might be able to fix, let alone build, anything.
Top Customer Reviews
Chapter 1: "Tossed Out on the Street Like Worthless Scrap"
Chapter 2: "If We Tried Harder, Could the Company Pay Us More?Read more ›
Lincoln Electric's story begins in 1895 when John C. Lincoln was laid off from his job at a Cleveland manufacturer of electric motors. Lincoln decided to go into business for himself, and by 1907 had expanded into welding machinery. John's brother, James, soon joined and took over management - John was an inventor. James is the one that implemented piece-rate payment, open-door communications, and the annual bonus. James was accused by various congressmen for years of using the bonus system to avoid paying U.S. taxes. The first payout, in 1934, represented 22% of worker pay. The company has now settled on a standard payout of 32% of earnings before interest, taxes, and bonus.
James also initiated an Advisory Board of elected representatives from throughout the factory, meeting every two weeks.Read more ›
According to Koller, Lincoln Electric operates on the principles that were originated by its founding brothers back in the late 1890s:
1. Employees are a high-value resource. "Treat employees like you (management) would want to be treated." Employees who perform their jobs up to company standards (which ARE rigorous) are paid according to the quality and quantity of their work. employees should not have to worry about losing their jobs in tough economic conditions, although they should expect to have hours and compensation curtailed.
2. The key to profitability is paying wages commensurate with productivity. During times of full production Lincoln Electric pays its most productive people bonuses of 70% and 120% of their base wage. At these times assembly line workers may earn $90,000, presumably from bonsuses and overtime pay. During slack times when production falls employee pay is sharply curtailed, but even so, this would seem to be preferable to laying people off.
3. Employee input into the business is essential for continual improvement. Employees make their voices heard through the Employee Advisory Board and the Open Door Policy whereby any employee may talk to the President. Employee bonuses are enhanced by the amount of productivity-improving ideas they originate.
4. In a global economy retaining employees is a competive advantage, not a liability.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book, gave many to friends and colleagues to share a great store. As for book condition: even used ones were in decent condition.Published 13 months ago by Olav Cramer
I enjoyed the history of Franklin Electric and their guarantee of employment for their workers, but the book became repetitive. It made it slow to read.Published 18 months ago by Jane F Haskin
Is guaranteed employment a viable business strategy? After reading this book, I would say .... Maybe. Well written and researched.Published on January 19, 2014 by Paul Downs
This is one the best books I've read. It's about the success and great management of a great old-school company. Read morePublished on December 12, 2013 by fourdegreesc
I recommend this book to anybody who appreciates the industrial history of the U.S. The book does a good job of discussing how Lincoln Electric began in the 19th Century and how... Read morePublished on October 21, 2013 by LeTU MBA
Outstanding review of a unique company and the principles which have made it successfull. These principles could be applied to other companies.Published on February 26, 2013 by James Rosenthal