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The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and The Next Episode of Capitalism Hardcover – October 14, 2002

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 1 and up
  • Hardcover: 478 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1st edition (October 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670887366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670887361
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,460,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This husband-and-wife team Zuboff's a Harvard professor and author of In the Age of the Smart Machine, and Maxmin's the former CEO of Volvo and Laura Ashley give socialist utopians of yesteryear stiff competition with their manifesto for a more personalized capitalism. They strive for the pop socioeconomics of a David Brooks or a Malcolm Gladwell, but their heavy academic style may disenchant some readers before their thesis's more radical parts kick in. Over the last two centuries, they argue, an increasingly efficient economy, coupled with a rise in democratic thinking and growing access to information, has opened up life's possibilities to increasing numbers of people. Because participation in the consumption-based economy is unavoidable, the general public looks to markets to provide "deep support" in their quest for individualization, but "are routinely punished for being complex psychological individuals in a world still fitted out for the old mass order." This macroeconomic structure treats people as either employees or consumers and inevitably hurts their feelings. Zuboff and Maxmin would eliminate the "little murders" of customer service interaction by replacing the current transaction-based model with a form of "distributed capitalism" based on a customer-supplier relationship, so semi-anonymous customer service reps will be replaced by "advocates" fully emotionally involved in their clients' needs. It's not clear how society will make its way to the authors' dream of a fully automated lifestyle, or what life will be like for blue-collar workers and manual laborers. Pundits who celebrated the Internet's potential to thoroughly revolutionize the economy, however, will no doubt rally behind these impractical visions.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This husband-and-wife team-Zuboff is a professor at the Harvard Business School, while Maxmin is a former CEO of Volvo, Thorn EMI, and Laura Ashley-present a comprehensive, scholarly, but readable tome that provides a social, economic, and psychological history of the relationships between people and corporations. The authors aver that while people have certainly changed over time, the corporations and other organizations they depend on for employment, goods, and services have not. "Managerial capitalism" fails to meet human needs because managerial structures have remained the same over time. As explanation, the authors cite the increase in the number of educated, middle-class people after World War II; the rise of the individual; working women; alienation from organized religion; frustrations with inadequate medical care; consumer issues; and, most recently, corporate chicanery such as at Enron. The authors maintain that employees' frustration and their demands for more control over their time need to be addressed. Zuboff and Maxmin describe a future where employees will take matters into their own hands and willingly incur the cost (including paying advocates) to find relief from frustration, improve communication, and create a win-win situation for all parties. This timely and thought-provoking book will appeal to users of business collections in academic and large public libraries.
Steven J. Mayover, formerly with the Free Lib. of Philadelphia
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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I read Vogl's article.
harry webster
This book has changed the way I think about the world and business.
peter watkins
This is a book of two parts.
harry wedstrone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Timothy R. Vojta on December 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After a seductive tease in the introduction, the book spends the next 300 pages or so rehashing in a rather disjointed fashion a history of capitalism, with a little bit of social psychology and technology trends sprinkled in for good measure. This in and of itself is interesting reading, if the book was titled "A Primer on Capitalism." It is only in the last 50-75 pages that the authors get to the point. In all fairness: Yes I agree, people are burned out (I know I am), yes things DEFINITELY need to change, and the rich are getting richer, I'm all over that idea. However, the relationship economy has already been tried and failed. Ultimately, and especially lately, products with any "value-added" premium built into their prices, quickly become commodities, which means that people are not willing to PAY for that premium service. It is unlikely, in this case, that such a commoditized service, would not support the profit margins required for sustainability. Witness the demise of the stockbroker. Take another example: 9/11 aside, the major airlines simply have not been competitive with the discount carriers. Their bloated cost structure has come home to roost, as they tried to support "markets of one." I believe it is an accident of their size that they remain in business for the time being. The most disingenuous part of the book though is really the last 50-75 pages. It is pure speculation and points to no specific examples of research currently under development that even hints at these advances taking hold. IBM tried and failed to sell Internetworked refrigerators. Consumers basically said, I can figure when my milk has expired thank you. I don't need to pay someone to tell me to schedule a servicing of my HVAC, it's called a calender and a pen.Read more ›
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By harry wedstrone on December 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a book of two parts. The first is a detailed examination of why managerial capitalism has reached the end of its useful life. Zuboff and Maxmin say that because the system is out of date it cannot serve the needs of todays consumers. They also say that its inward focus results in scandals like Enron because managers think the comany is there to serve their needs, Managers are at the center of the system and value is inside the company. All of this was ok for making things but failed to deliver good service because it was not designed to do this. It used technology to reduce cost and depressed the impact of the internet. The net result is that we as consumers have changed, management has not and we suffer. WE seek help and only get a bloody nose.. The second part of the book follows the logic of the demise the managemet system Here value goes outside the company and rests with individuals ( it is distributed) To achieve alignment everything else ( control systems, ownership etc ) becomes distribed and wealth is realised by allowing people to live life on their own terms- by providing them with ' deep support" Here the techological and organisational vision is revolutionary. You need to forget all you have learned and think about capitalism from the ground up. The authors envision using digital platforms to provide common data and service. They suggest this will take 30% plus out of todays cost. These platforms will be base for new services and levels of support ranging from the fully automated to the personal. Here are advocates who navigate the world on your behalf. This is a whole new function ... they provide the ultimate range of support . They represent federations whose sole purpose is to provide different levels of support leveraging off the digital platforms.Read more ›
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Support Economy sets out in the clearest possible detail why the existing form of capitalism has reached its adaptive limits and what the new form will be. As an economist I could be critical of some of the details that Zuboff and Maxmin layout. That would only devalue the masterpiece that they have written. The sheer intelligence behind this is enough to humble most people- but this is supported by scholarship and a deep and practical experience of how business and companies work. This makes the arguments relatively simple to follow. But you then get their desciption of the ' new ' enterprise logic and the nature of distributed capitalism and you truly have to think in different ways. Your imagination is put to the test. This is no different however that the leaps in thought that went with Henry Ford. The move from transaction to relationship economics has been discussed by many people but Zuboff and Maxmin give credence to the argument and ground it in a new reality. I can only imagine the arguments and discussion that went on to develop these ideas. When an academic and a busisness person of this achievement get togther the output is normally second rate . In this case it is truly extraordinary. The book will become a land mark for a new generation of management and social thought. It is rich in ideas and a points the way to new and hopefully less stressful future. The future they paint is not as unrealistic as some may argue, I think they have only touched the suface. We should all be thankful however that there are people like this who dare to think new thoughts and have the courage of their convictions to put them into print.
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