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Fixing the Game: How Runaway Expectations Broke the Economy, and How to Get Back to Reality [Hardcover]

Roger L. Martin
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 May 2011
American capitalism is in dire straits, caught in a perilous pattern of increasing volatility, decreasing investor returns, and ongoing bad behavior by executives. And it's getting worse. Since the turn of the twenty-first century, we've seen two massive value-destroying market meltdowns and a string of ethics breaches, including accounting scandals, options-backdating schemes, and the subprime mortgage debacle.

Just what is going on here? Is it the inevitable decline of the American economy? Is it the new normal in a technology-enabled global marketplace? Or is it possible that the very theories we've embraced to underpin our capital markets are actually producing these crises?

In Fixing the Game, Roger Martin reveals the culprit behind the sorry state of American capitalism: our deep and abiding commitment to the idea that the purpose of the firm is to maximize shareholder value. This theory has led to a massive growth in stock-based compensation for executives and, through this, to a naive and wrongheaded linking of the real market--the business of designing, making, and selling products and services--with the expectations market--the business of trading stocks, options, and complex derivatives. Martin shows how this tight coupling has been engineered and lays out its results: a single-minded focus on the expectations market that will continue driving us from crisis to crisis--unless we act now.

Using the National Football League as his primary example, Martin illustrates that it is possible to take a much more thoughtful and effective approach than we now do to the intersection of the real and the expectations markets and to governance in general in the capital markets. Martin shows how we can act to end the destructive cycle, including:

  • Restructuring executive compensation to focus entirely on the real market, not the expectations market
  • Rethinking the meaning of board governance and role of board members
  • Reining in the power of hedge funds and monopoly pension funds

Concise, hard-hitting, and entertaining, Fixing the Game advocates seizing American capitalism from the jaws of the expectations market and planting it firmly in the real market--and it presents the steps we must take now to do so.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press (1 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422172295
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422172292
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 21.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 536,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important stuff for non-economists 24 Oct 2011
Wake up guys! This is a fine book from a world-renowned economist who also has the gift of the straightforward gab. He explains the subject that has led to the demise of our western economies, and does it by using the simple analogy of sport. If players could bet on the games they played in, the game would be "fixed" and destroyed beyond saving. He gives good examples of how sports have saved themselves from this. Unfortunately governments and the markets (he concentrates on the US but we're all in the same boat) just let the "players" of the market fiddle, bribe and bet our (not their) money on their own scams. Their bets are structured so they're safe. We're the losers. "The parasites destroy the host" - this is a top-league economics prof, not a tree-hugging leftie! This is not a few rogue investors, it's The System of huge corps! Wake up world before our futures are p....d against the wall by smart young operators on the end of a broadband connection. They're laughing all the way to the Bahamas.
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5.0 out of 5 stars If only I had read this book sooner... 2 May 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book not only explains the problems with current thinking on the governance of our listed companies but also what needs to be done, in a practical sense, in order to fix those problems. These are issues that I have been grappling with for some time. I wish I had read this book sooner.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and thought-provoking 27 Mar 2012
I went to see Roger Martin speak at a business seminar, and was struck by his common sense and his ability to make huge concepts comprehensible to non-experts. On the strength of this I bought his book "Fixing the Game", and I am very glad that I did. There is no doubt that capitalism as it has been conducted for the last 20 years or so has been discredited. Martin makes it clear what is the root cause of the problems, and posits some simple and realistic solutions to get us back on track. "Fixing the Game" is insightful, very readable, and a breath of fresh air: highly recommended.
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