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What Were They Thinking?: Unconventional Wisdom About Management Hardcover – Jun 1 2007

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Strong Is the New Pretty

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 241 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (June 1 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422103129
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422103128
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 458 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #200,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

From Booklist

There is much to laud about the objective perspective that Stanford professor and author Pfeffer brings to business. First and foremost, he calls em as he sees em, showcasing common management errors and building on four years as a Business 2.0 columnist. Trimming employees' compensation and benefits packages? Nothing is gained from that immediate cost savings, except plummeting morale and retention issues—as the airline and auto industries have learned. Thinking about a merger or acquisition? Think again, he urges; it's an easier strategy than fixing operations—but one that more often than not fails. No function or goal of corporate America is left unscrutinized, from strategy to human resources. Yet he softens his radical and common-sense opinions by offering a range of solutions and companies that practice them well. Pfeffer points to Whole Foods, to Larry Culp at Danaher, and to CEO Gary Loveman of Harrah's as leaders who have managed to set corporate priorities and agendas that succeed. Short chapters with clear-cut messages and examples allow time to contemplate and copy. Jacobs, Barbara

From the Back Cover

Why do so many companies make so many missteps—even while led by hard working, smart, and serious people who expend major time and effort trying to do the right thing? In What Were They Thinking? Unconventional Wisdom About Management, Jeffrey Pfeffer provides incisive and engaging responses to this question based on his popular business 2.0 column, “The Human Factor” Pfeffer shows how poor business choices arise when business leaders:


  • For example, when companies get into financial trouble, they often slash wages, benefits and staff. That boosts cash flow in the short run. But it also drives essential talent--and customers--out the door as service, quality and innovation vanish.

  • For instance, many executives fall victim to the prevailing—but inaccurate—belief that if you want employess to do something you have to impel them with external forces such as threats or rewards.

  • Many principles governing organizational behaviour are simple and powerful—but companies fail to capitalize on them. To illustrate, leaders could activate the “norm of reciprocity” by demonstrating generosity toward employees and thereby building a loyal and committed workforce. Yet management theory fails to take such obvious solutions into account.

    What Were They Thinking? contains twenty-eight short chapters filled with examples, data and insights that challenge conventional beliefs and much accepted management wisdom. Each chapter also provides guidelines about how to think more deeply and intelligently about a wide range of critical topics—from people management and leadership to performance measurement and competitive strategy.

    Abounding with solid organizational advice—delivered by Pfeffer himself—this book provides the wise and timely business commentary you need to make the smartest possible decisions for your company.

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    January 18, 2008
    Format: Hardcover
    5 people found this helpful
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