Capitalist Philosophers: The Geniuses of Modern Business -- Their Lives, Times, And Ideas

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9780756784881: Capitalist Philosophers: The Geniuses of Modern Business -- Their Lives, Times, And Ideas

In The Capitalist Philosophers, critically acclaimed writer Andrea Gabor tells the epic story of American business through the lives, times, and ideas of the great thinkers who defined the art and science of business. It is a book full of colorful stories and brilliant insights into why the business world is the way it is today.

People in business are constantly besieged by supposedly revolutionary ideas. Any company that went on a crash diet in response to the trendy precepts of Reengineering the Corporation felt the enormous impact still exercised by one of the first capitalist philosophers, Frederick Taylor. By going back to the source, Gabor helps businesspeople make smart, informed decisions about the future.
Featured in The Capitalist Philosophers are:Frederick Taylor: "Production went to his head and filled his sleepless nerves like liquor or women on a Saturday night."
Mary Parker Follett, who understood that "only so far as business leaders . . . can identify themselves with the underlying social impulses of their time can they hope to plan and build great organizations."
Chester Barnard, the philosopher king, who believed that management's job is to get things done by persuasion.
Fritz Roethlisberger and Elton Mayo, the creative misfits who "invented" human relations and put Harvard Business School on the map.
Robert McNamara, the "Whiz Kid," whose pioneering work in control and quantitative methods at Ford and the Department of Defense have had such a great influence on American management.
Abraham Maslow and Douglas McGregor, the pathfinders of humanistic management.
W. Edwards Deming, "the man who discovered quality" and the prophet of the learning organization.
Herbert Simon, Nobel laureate, pioneer in artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology, renegade economist and management pathbreaker, whose ideas on decision making have been vastly influential.
Alfred Chandler, who laid the basis for the way we think about corporate strategy, and Alfred Sloan, whose My Years at General Motors is the most important business book ever published.
Peter Drucker, who "gives you thoughts that are large."
As Andrea Gabor notes in her Introduction, "Contrary to common wisdom, it is possible for individuals to have a major impact on history. Just as FDR and Margaret Sanger changed the way we think about, respectively, politics and sexuality, so the capitalist philosophers have changed the way we look at the dominant institution in our society--the corporation."

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Review:

Perhaps nothing has shaped the American century more than the emergence of management as a discipline in the corporate workplace. In The Capitalist Philosophers, Andrea Gabor explores this phenomenon by profiling the personalities and ideas of the most influential management thinkers of the 20th century. Among those that Gabor writes about are Robert S. McNamara, the former Secretary of Defense and pioneering bean counter at Ford Motor; Peter F. Drucker, the "big idea man" and guru to giants such as General Electric; W. Edwards Deming, the late star of the "quality movement"; and Mary Parker Follett, an early advocate of collaborative management.

One of the many threads that hold together Gabor's profiles is the issue of "two seemingly irreconcilable visions of management--the scientific and humanistic." She writes that humanists see the corporation "as a pivotal institution of democracy with complex responsibilities to a host of constituencies, including its employees, its customers, and the community. The other, much more utilitarian, view recognizes one corporate constituent--the shareholder--and a single purpose--profit making." The Capitalist Philosophers is for anyone seeking a sweeping, well-written history of American business. It's also a rich look at the philosophical underpinnings of newer management approaches that are rolling through the workplace today, such as re-engineering and Six Sigma. --Dan Ring

From the Back Cover:

A "sweeping account of management in the 20th century."
--Publishers Weekly

"An illuminating look behind the scenes at the people who shaped modern management and gave us the corporation we know and love--or know and reject--today. Andrea Gabor's engrossing stories of yesterday's big thinkers provide essential insights for tomorrow's business leaders, helping them find enduring truths in all passing fads and fancies."
--Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School, author of World Class and Rosabeth Moss Kanter on the Frontiers of Management

"Andrea Gabor has mined the lives and times of a dozen seminal figures--from Deming and Drucker to Maslow and McNamara--who have constructed our concepts of corporate management and capitalist enterprise. Through brilliant portraits of their personal lives and professional ideas, Gabor has created a compelling account of how these capitalist philosophers have not only interpreted reality but also managed to define it."
Michael Useem, director of the Center for Leadership and Change Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and author of The Leadership Moment

"The well-balanced portraits examine the personal and intellectual developments of the capitalist philosophers and show how these thinkers affected big companies for good and bad. . . . [Andrea Gabor] has a good eye for the revealing details that both guided and limited her thinkers' ideas."
--Harvard Business Review

"A thoughtful and important history of seminal thinkers who shaped--and continue to shape--the theory and practice of management."
--Warren Bennis, University Professor and Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California, and co-author of Co-Leaders

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