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Turbulence: Boeing and the State of American Workers and Managers Hardcover – October 12, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300154615
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300154610
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #614,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Turbulence should be required reading for anyone at a major American corporation, especially in top management."—The New York Times
(The New York Times)

"Well-written and show[ing] a firm grasp of both the aviation business and the competitive forces pushing Boeing management to act as they did."—The Seattle Times
(The Seattle Times)

"A meticulous and illuminating case study of the nation's largest manufacturing exporter."—The New York Times
(The New York Times)

"Turbulence is not only a masterful, detailed study of ten years of dramatic organizational change at Boeing. It is also a story of how American managers and workers can cope with the fierce pressures of global economic competition, seeking both high productivity and a decent workplace."—Benjamin I. Page, Gordon Scott Fulcher Professor of Decision Making, Northwestern University (Benjamin I. Page 2010-07-06)

Turbulence traces the history of corporate restructuring  and its consequences through the experience of an iconic US company. A fascinating read."—Peter Cappelli, George W. Taylor Professor of Management; Director, Center for Human Resources at The Wharton School and Professor of Education, University of Pennsylvania

(Peter Cappelli 2010-07-10)

"The mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis is admirable and well done, a credit to the authors. The power of the work comes from an unusual, perhaps unique, empirical data-base looking at what actually happens to employees living through massive corporate change."—Jim Collins, author of Built to Last, Good to Great, and How the Mighty Fall (Jim Collins 2010-07-15)

"Not the usual 'sanitized' business school case study, Turbulence makes visible the contradictory forces at play as an iconic company lurches through wrenching change. Much of the story is told through the voices of employees and front line managers, giving the reader an insider's view of what corporate transformation can mean for people. The book is excellent for teachers who want to bring the subject of organizational change vividly and powerfully to life for their students."—Linda Smircich, Professor of Organization Studies, Isenberg School of Management University of Massachusetts at Amherst
(Linda Smircich)

About the Author

Edward S. Greenberg is a member of the faculty in the Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, and professor of political science. Leon Grunberg is professor and chairperson, Department of Comparative Sociology, University of Puget Sound. Sarah Moore is associate dean of faculty and professor of psychology, University of Puget Sound. Patricia B. Sikora is owner/principal, Sikora Associates, LLC, in Superior, CO.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Joe Draper on December 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The books from the first printing were hard to find, but now the second printing is out.

When I first saw how hard it was to get, I wondered if John F. McDonnell or Harry Stonecipher were buying them all up! Just kidding, but it does make you wonder.

The authors' make it very clear from the start that the "Boeing" throughout the book is Boeing Commercial Airplanes. That is important to understand. I would even state that the "Boeing" in the book applies to people with a legacy born in the Heritage Boeing Commercial Airplanes (the Puget Sound region).

I have read the book. Right off the bat in the preface I saw that Stan Sorscher and Charlie Bofferding (both former Boeing employees and members of SPEEA, the union representing professional employees at Boeing) were engaged in proofreading or as sources. I thought that it might have a real-life perspective from the engineering perspective. It also explains a few of the stories that are recalled. Ron Woodward's input was a real eye opener! His discussion of Phil Condit was wild!

We all wondered about Phil, at times. Between marrying secretaries multiple times and having houses with unique features (from castle-like architecture to model trains running through them). His involvement/capitulation in settling a particularly contentious IAM strike and the naiive negotiations leading up to the McBoeing merger are mentioned in the book, but I am sure there is much, much more to the story.

One minor dissappointment is typographical, I have never heard former CEO Frank Schrontz called Carl Schrontz.

I also wish they had done their first survey in 1996, pre-merger.When I read it again, I will make sure to look at the footnotes right away.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By be on November 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The book is worth the price but it's only an introduction to some aspects of how globalization as it is now began. It's like reading the middle of a book, without any connection to the first or last part of it. A lot happened before the period the authors have written about. Supervisors where I worked were being sent to Japan to study their 'lean manufacturing' work processes before 1990.
Any factory level employee that was present when Airbus announced they wanted a larger share of the market can confirm how the threat was passed on to us. In weekly crew meetings we were reminded that if Airbus took any of 'our' share of the market, that would mean loss of our jobs. It occurred to several of us that we were being induced to feel not just threatened by competition but were also the cause.

Our benefits, our high wages, city inventory taxes,(our boss said they were 8% then), the restrictions and restraints imposed by unions were producing not just corporate frustration and anxiety but the threat by Airbus. This was actually said in crew meetings that our benefits, insurance, workmens comp, etc and high wages were not entitlements but could be and should be withdrawn. The reason was literally put into precise words: "That money belongs to the shareholders."

There were motivational seminars, lots of them, some were informative and interesting. Books were recommended to and read by management and supervisors. (The Goal by Goldratt was almost a bible because as we were told, 'nobody goes into business except to make money' and that's what the book is about.) There wasn't any focus on the fact that capitalism is about competition.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By mnomalley on January 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A longitudinal, inside look into one of America's premier companies is almost unheard of in the management literature, and yet, this is precisely what the authors deliver. This book adeptly describes what it was like to be an employee and manager in a company undergoing colossal change over the past 15 years. The fact that Boeing is a manufacturing success story in America suggests that as far as big companies go, this is as good as it gets -- and it comes with plenty of change and angst. There are many lessons for management and the rank and file embedded in this gem: if you want a rich, ground level description of what it was like to go through a radical organizational transformation, this book is for you. And if you want to learn from the lessons of those doing their best to live through these painful times -- what they did right and what they did wrong -- there isn't a better template. mnomalley, author of The Wisdom of Bees, Leading with Kindness, and Creating Commitment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Normand Hamel on November 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is about the state of American workers and managers in the new economic reality of globalization, as seen through the transformations that took place at Boeing in the late nineties.

The basis of the book is a study carried out over a period of ten years, between 1996 and 2006. The authors "surveyed, interviewed, analyzed, and wrote about the employee experience at Boeing". The key point, which is made clear throughout the book, is that what happened at Boeing is not different than what happened in many other large corporations in America. You don't necessarily have to be a Boeing employee to recognize your own experience here. The organizational changes that have transformed Boeing are part of a large trend which redefines the way large companies are dealing with their employees in order to remain competitive in the context of globalization. The impact this transformation had on employees is analyzed in details, and subjectives interpretations are given to make sense of the enormous amount of data accumulated in the four surveys that were carried out over the ten year study.

You don't have to be a Boeing employee, or ex-employee, to appreciate this book. What is discussed here is now a universal theme. It's about the new paradigm that has started to replace the one that was established after the war in 1945. The relationship that the employers had with their employees had not changed much in the first 50 post-war years. But the mounting pressures of globalization forced Corporate America to take drastic measures to remain competitive, and this had a devastating impact on the morale of the workforce.
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