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Masters of Management: How the Business Gurus and Their Ideas Have Changed the Worldfor Better and for Worse Hardcover – 15 Dec 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; Updated edition (15 Dec. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061771139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061771132
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 755,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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“At last some common sense in the arena dominated by shark-swimming, chaos-seeking, megatrending, one-minute managing, highly effective people.” (New York Times Book Review)

“At last some common sense in the arena dominated by shark-swimming, chaos-seeking, megatrending, one-minute managing, highly effective people.” (Chicago Tribune)

“Brings clarity, humor, and historical perspective to a field that rewards gibberish, pomposity, and revolutionaries who want to throw away the pase (and the people that go with it).” (Wall Street Journal)

“Micklethwait and Wooldridge have done the near impossible: written a book about management—management—that is lively, engrossing, skeptical, fair-minded, and steeped in a rich sense of history.” (Joseph Nocera)

“Read it before buying any other business book.” (Rosabeth Moss Kanter)

“A gem of debunking.” (The Times (London))

“Simultaneously smart, insightful, terrifying and humorous… this revised incarnation should overtake its predecessor as the most bracing and relevant discussion of the world created by MBAs.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“This excellent book encourages thoughtful analysis of the growing management revolution; the combining of knowledge, learning, and innovation; the real meaning of globalization; and boardroom implications.” (Booklist)

“Without some failures, companies can’t ride the crest of the next wave of innovation. If you don’t seize opportunity, someone else will....Wooldridge uses the stories of small and large companies to drive home his “how to make it work” advice.” (Biz Books)

“Skillfully written and sprinkled with interesting observations.” (Wall Street Journal)

From the Back Cover

In 1996, having completed a two-year research study, longtime Economist journalists and editors John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge published The Witch Doctors, an explosive critique of management theory and its legions of evangelists and followers. The book became a bestseller, widely praised by reviewers and devoured by readers confused by the buzzwords and concepts the management “industry” creates. At the time, ideas about “reengineering,” “the search for excellence,” “quality,” and “chaos” both energized and haunted the world of business, just as “the long tail,” “black swans,” “the tipping point,” “the war for talent,” and “corporate responsibility” do today.

For decades, since the rise of MBA programs on campuses across the country, the field of management has operated in a dubious space. Many of its framers clamor for respect within the academy while making millions of dollars pedaling ideas, some brilliant and some nonsensical, in speeches, consulting arrangements, and books.

Although The Witch Doctors was a damning critique (“a scalpel job,” according to the Wall Street Journal), it also argued that much of management theory is valuable—making companies more effi-cient and productive, improving organizational life for workers, and providing sound ways for companies to innovate while defending more entrenched plans. Building upon all that made the original such a phenomenal success, this fully revised and updated edition, Masters of Management, takes into account the rise of the Internet, the growing power of emerging markets, the Great Recession of 2008, and the more recent developments in management theory. The result is an indispensable volume for any manager.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book provides a well balanced [criticism/praise] review of management theory. Easy and enjoyable read on a subject that produced a lot of barely comprehensible literature.

I read the previous edition of this book - titled the Witch Doctors - too, and there is some difference between the two editions (something that the author acknowledges himself too). This edition is not as head-bushing as the previous one (something I liked more in the previous edition), but it also has more information on different business trends more generally (sometimes making me feel I am just reading another Schumpeter section of the Economist magazine - which I understand is written by the same author).
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By Richard on 2 May 2012
Format: Hardcover
If you look around for books on management, you will find a lot of rubbish. Vast majority of authors and publishers make grand claims on thin data, exagerate the novelty of their work and its potential impact on business. Masters of Management will give you a balanced view on the evolution of management as a science and the individuals who drove this. It closely examines insitutions (e.g. Harvard) and thought-leaders (e.g. Tom Peters), subtly exploses those without substance and rightly credits the real masters of management thinking (e.g. Peter Drucker).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I originally read "Witch Doctors" by Wooldridge and thus wanted to find out how this book compares with it. I was not disappointed. Lots of up-to-date examples and analysis on the latest research on management development is reviewed here.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter de Toma sen. on 22 Jun. 2013
Format: Hardcover
"Masters of Management" is "a revised and expanded edition of the witch doctors" (1996). In his "Acknowledgements" the author confirms "my debt to the dozens of people whose brains I have picked during the writing of this book". Comment: of these 37 people only Rosabeth Moss Kanter and C.K. Prahalad belong to the "Best Business Books" community.
John Micklewait (co-author of The Witch Doctors) quotes in his Foreword Jeff Skilling as Enron's CEO. Kenneth Lay was the CEO and chairman of Enron from 1985 until his resignation on January 23, 2002, except for a few months in 2000 when he was chairman and Jeffrey Skilling was CEO. Jeff Skilling was Enron's President and COO; Skilling was CEO in the period of February to August 2001. Lay deceased in 2006, Skilling went to jail in 2006 scheduled for release in February 2028. Yesterday his sentence has been reduced to 14 years only. Micklewait closes his Foreword: "But if you don't like what is written here, complain to Adrian, not me. It is now his book. And I think it is a good one."
In his Introduction (26 pages!) the author claims: "The rise of management theory is one of the most striking-and one of the least analyzed-developments of the past hundred years (Pg.3). ... The problem is that in order to extract that nugget, you have to dig through an enormous amount of waffle. This book is an attempt to extract those nuggets. ... I try to separate the good (or, at any rate, the influential) from the bad and the irrelevant. ... If ideas or thinkers fail the test completely, I have usually left them out, rather than wasting ink on people who have already spilt too much of it. Pg. 23) My aim has been to challenge the specialist readers without confusing generalists." (Pg.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
The Wrong Book - 5 Dec. 2011
By Loyd E. Eskildson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Author Wooldridge, editor at the Economist, profiles a number of management thinkers and wonders whether the variation between their thinking is a sign of management theory's 'immaturity.' Eventually, however, he concludes that this variation is a sign of 'the profession's vitality' and openness to outside ideas. He should have stuck with his first inclination - as a result, he unwittingly ends up adding to the pile of management theory sophistry that confuses readers and that he previously decried in 'The Witch Doctors.'

I seriously began studying management theory in the early 1970s at Arizona State University (ASU) - an entity unfortunately trapped in the 1930s and the 'Human Relations' school of thought. (Remember the experiments at Western Electric's plant - varying lighting, etc., and observing the impact on productivity? Surprisingly, productivity continually rose - hence, the conclusion that interest in workers was the key. It was named the 'Hawthorne Effect.') While ASU (and presumably others) pursued this and other 'warm feelings,' Japan instead developed 'The Toyota Production System' that simultaneously provided significant and sustained improvements in quality, productivity, and response time, and used it to decimate first American auto firms, then steel producers, etc. Amazingly, at the same time Toyota was also successfully pursuing Christensen's 'Disruptive Innovation' theory - again, a key development that management theorists at ASU were also oblivious to, and probably prior to even Harvard Business School even having recognized what was occuring.

Meanwhile, more and more books were also published that summarized 'leadership/management' secrets of successful sports coaches - the most prominent being John Wooden, head basketball coach at UCLA. However, anyone with a warm body should have immediately wondered about the relevance between motivating/leading young men 'working' unpaid 3-5 years in pursuit of a lucrative NBA career to managing career scientists, sewer-cleaners, hospital-workers, etc.

The REAL REASONS for inconsistencies in 'management theories' are several: 1)Incompetent commentators - Malcolm Gladwell's name immediately comes to mind, and was referenced by Wooldridge. He and others maximize the extrapolation of conclusions from minimal, uncontrolled, and often self-selected data. Richard Florida and Stephen Covey are others guilty of the same, and referenced by Wooldridge as well. (Wooldridge, however, seems oblivious to this.) 2)Varying organizational situations - leading a firm away from near bankruptcy in a near commodity marketplace requires much different skills than leading a firm into successful innovation that avoids intense cost pressures. Steve Jobs, in his second-coming at Apple, displayed both skill sets, and is one of the few able to do so. In fact, you can almost guarantee that skills that birth a successful new firm will eventually become a hindrance after the pace of innovation slows and competition focuses more on costs. 3)Varying economic situations - decades ago jobs were easy to obtain and cost competition was minimal - managers needed to focus on pacifying workers. Hence, the automakers' and airlines' bloated labor contracts. Today, its the opposite, and new hard-nosed managment skills are required - eg. union-busting via bankruptcy and outsourcing. Again, Wooldridge fails to clearly see the issue and offer a framework. 4)Varying personnel situations - obviously one does not manage M.D.s the same way as truck drivers. Abraham Maslow's 'Needs Hierarchy' provides a good structure for understanding why. 5)Important 'other' factors such as strategy (good or bad), use of financial and operational leverage, and over-emphasis on volume instead of market share,

Wooldridge also waffles on the credibility of economic theorists - incredible, given their failure to forecast the 'Great Recession' and the outcome of minimal government regulation of the finance industry. In fact, some of these 'great economists' help create the problem - eg. the Black-Scholes model for bond pricing, and Long Term Capital Management - a highly-leveraged trading system. Both incorporated strong Nobel prize-winning individuals.

My suggestion - instead read materials by Larry Bossidy (former Allied-Signal CEO), Michael Porter (Harvard professor of strategy), Tachii Ohno and Shigeo Shingo (developers of the Toyota Production System), Clayton Christensen (Harvard professor), and Louis Gerstner (former IBM CEO). Shorter, but equally valuable, inputs can be obtained from C. Northcotte Parkinson (Parkinson's Law), and Edwin Locke (professor of psychology at Univ. of Md.).
Fantastic Read, Informative and Compelling 15 Nov. 2014
By James Berlin - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book for both MBA students and the budding entrepreneur alike. It's often difficult distilling the technical knowledge that's crammed into you through university with the creative spirit and drive that fuels success. This book helps not only understand the history of management theory and the techniques of different managers, but also demonstrates how one's ability must be tied to shrewd planning, not just talent alone.

The detractors of this book will point out the fact that there are differing management theory 'branches', if you will; but they're missing the point of this book. No manager of firms large or small should take theory at face value -- the drive to constantly monitor and develop new algorithms improve efficiency. This book makes you aware of this need; while some purists will insist on certain studies or certain academic studies; I believe that the most successful individuals in industry are those that are able to meld intuition and theory towards product creation and management.

Written by the editor of the Economist, this book provides what can be described as an opinion -- and it is rather well versed at this venture, I would argue; I think this would be a phenomenal beginning to exploring a multitude of opinions and ideas that one should keep mindful of. Why? Because of the history it provides, and the narrative that you can see forming -- the author doesn't prevent you from arguing against his presentation of the data -- you are free to do so. However, he presents an argument that is held by many, and is worthy of noting at any point in one's career, whether it's a high school student that wishes to create a startup in his or her coming years, or a seasoned manager at a Fortune 500 company.

A good reminder of history, and a lesson in humility -- I think this book will find a good place in my reference shelf for sure!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Global MBA in a Book 14 Feb. 2012
By Priscilla Burgess - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Business books are published at such a pace that it's impossible to keep
up with the latest ideas trumpeted by multitudes of gurus, professors,
and CEOs all contradicting each other and all insisting their one idea
is the only one you'll ever need. Different business schools embrace
different experts, preferably those on staff. Walk into any manager's
office and scan the bookshelves. You'll find more books on business than
Amazon has on advice for personal relationships. How can you find your
way through the maze of advice?

Easy--Adrian Wooldridge's book Masters of Management is a guide through
every aspect of management theories, strategies, gurus' credibility, and
CEO reminiscences. He has the uncanny ability to bring clarity to the
ideas floating in the vast ocean of business ideas, advice, and their
history, and future. The book contains more useful information than most
MBA programs, albeit in bite-sized pieces. Bibliographies for each
chapter refer you to more detailed information about the topics covered.

The Masters of Management is dense with information. Complex topics are
broken into two to four main points, making it easy to manage the load.
Ideas like globalization, business process redesign, or frugal
innovation are explained as inevitable, a fad, or a brilliant concept.
As the CEO of a start-up, all the information is timely and helpful.
Ideas that we are not ready to implement provide food for thought; his
opinions on globalization and Corporate Social Responsibility help us
with our current direction.

Wooldridge writes for The Economist, a periodical that produces the best
English-language journalism in the world. It shows. I found it impossible to scan
or dip because as soon as I start reading, I'm lost in interesting
tales, superbly written with clarity and wit. For example, this quote
creates very entertaining mental visions: "Christians and Hindus might
worship different gods, but they still have to wash their hair."

It's rare to find a book so comprehensive and useful. If you buy one
business book this year, you'll be doing yourself a favor by making it
Adrian Wooldridge's Masters of Management.

Priscilla Burgess is CEO, Co-founder, and Co-inventor of Bellwether Materials, an award-winning, triple-bottom line company that manufactures deep green building insulation made from an agricultural by-product.
Great update to 'witch doctors'. recommended reading to anybody curious about "Management" and "Leadership" 6 Oct. 2012
By Alejandro D. Gonzalez - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
About 15 years ago I stumbled with a copy of Witch Doctors, and what a great book it was. I loved then the to-the-point style of the authors, and went to read from them 'The Company' and 'Right Nation'.

Despite Wooldridge writing this one on his own (Micklethwaite writes only the foreword), this is a major step forward from Witch Doctors, revised after all the changes in the last decade and a half (the dot-com-bubble implosion, the global financial crisis, and many upcoming 'gurus' showing up).

The book offers interesting perspectives and opposing views to many of the fads in management, including some cold assessments on Malcolm Gladwell, Thomas Friedman and others.

I found in the book key perspectives (that keep both feet in the ground) about some of the great ideas and contributions from the management 'science', and liked how it exposes the BS that permeates some of these ideas
One Star 10 Dec. 2014
By JOEYVEL - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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