- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: I. B. Tauris (April 15, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1850434190
- ISBN-13: 978-1850434191
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,177,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Puritan Gift: Triumph, Collapse and Revival of an American Dream Hardcover – April 15, 2007
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"A very thought-provoking and readable book."--Linda Hesselman, Management Studies Centre, University College, London
‘In The Puritan Gift, published last year, the septuagenarian Scottish brothers William and Kenneth Hopper, respectively a banker and an engineer-turned-industrial consultant, argued that for 200 years the puritan foundations of America kept its businesses intact, emphasising craft, financial responsibility and the sublimation of private interest to the group.’ - Andrew Billen, TIMES, 9th March 2009
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As the title suggests, this story - for this is no dry text destined for those soulless time-serving senior managers and executives intent on seeking the latest snake oil with which to lubricate their legitimized theft of shareholder funds - traces the origins of contemporary management back to the strict disciplines of the Puritan Migrants of the 1630s and their flight to America. The authors list the four abiding aspects of Puritanism which infused the managerial culture established by the descendents of those early settlers as being: 1) the purpose of life was to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth; 2) an aptitude for mechanical skills; 3) a moral outlook that subordinates the interest of the individual to the group; and, 4) an ability to gather, galvanize and marshal financial, material and human resources to a single purpose at whatever scale. More briefly put : Rectitude, Pragmatism, Teamwork and Leadership. An Appendix summarizes the quintessential of the book in a most useful listing of the authors' 25 principles underlying good practice from the Golden Age of Management (1920-1970).
The book is divided into five parts - Origins (1630-1815), Rise (1815-1920), Triumph (1920-1970), Collapse (1970-1995) and Revival (1995-2006). Throughout, the Puritan gift is described by the authors as being the underpinning of that rare ability to successfully create and manage organisations that serve a useful purpose in any sector of human activity. Throughout the authors warn that as America increasingly distances itself from these core values, which underlay its traditional commercial and economic success, it puts its own future prosperity and security at risk.
This truly remarkable book provides an original exploration of the dramatic and far-reaching consequences of the Puritans' gift to America - the ethos which produced the early success of America and what came to be known as the American dream. While the reader may feel that Frederick Taylor's efforts receive ill treatment and that Stafford Beer's contribution should not have been totally ignored, she will be encouraged to see how the authors highlight the "Cult of the (so-called) Expert" and the bluff and bluster of the MBA movement.
This reviewer, a practicing engineer, has read many management books over the past thirty years but never before one which has been so informative, so illuminating and so enjoyable. Trite as it may sound, this is essential reading for anyone aspiring to the new style of management that will be essential for productive success in the decades ahead as the eastern economies increasingly dominate world trade.
All the greatness of American (and world) business has been around for ages, and we just need to get back to basics, back to the roots. Any study of the great businesses and entrepreneurs teaches this lesson. The Hoppers do an excellent job of raising this idea, with plenty of great stories to support it.
It is surprising that the publishers do not get this book into bigtime US circulation. While written by Brits, it is after all a book about the rise and fall of American business and economic prestige. It should be on the "hot" table in all the US bookstores. But in order to get it quickly you have to go to amazon UK. What gives?
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