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The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business [Hardcover]

Duff McDonald
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 Sep 2013
DISCOVER THE SECRET INFLUENCE OF THE FIRM They helped invent the bar code. They revolutionized business schools and created the corporate practices that now rule our world. They reinvented the idea of American capitalism and aggressively exported it across the globe. McKinsey employees are trusted and distrusted, loved and despised. They are doing behind-the-scenes work for the most powerful people in the world, and their ranks of alumni include the chairman of HSBC and William Hague. Renowned financial journalist Duff McDonald uncovers how these high-priced business savants have ushered in waves of structural, financial, and technological shifts but also become mired in controversy across the years. Discover how the firm both endorsed and celebrated Enron s disastrous corporate structure and how they ve been instrumental in the Coalition s controversial NHS reforms. Are they worth their astronomical fees? And what do firms and governments actually get for their money? Based on exclusive interviews with key McKinsey players and written in gripping prose, this is a revealing window onto one of the most secretive and powerful companies in the world.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (10 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439190976
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439190975
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 190,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Fascinating. If you want to know what it is about the culture of the firm that sets it apart and has made it so successful, read this book.' -- Liaquat Ahamed, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lords of Finance 'A superb examination of one of the most powerful, secretive, and least understood organizations on the planet.' -- William D. Cohan, bestselling author of Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World 'Timely... A fast-paced account of a key business institution, its deeds and misdeeds.' Kirkus Reviews 'Revealing... McDonald combines a lucid chronicle of McKinsey's growth and boardroom melodramas.' Publishers Weekly 'This is critical reading for anyone who wants to understand how the world of business really works.' -- Bethany McLean, coauthor of the New York Times bestseller All the Devils Are Here 'Thought-provoking... offers a fascinating look behind the company's success.' -- Andrew Ross Sorkin New York Times 'An up-to-date, full-blown history, told with wit and clarity...' Wall Street Journal 'At a stroke, McDonald sums up the attraction of McKinsey to the world's largest companies, the mystique surrounding its methods, the envy it inspires in competitors and the anger it sometimes incites... a very readable account.' Financial Times '[An] admiring book that nevertheless asks hard questions about the organization's future.' The Economist 'Is this a good book? Yes. It is meticulously researched, well-written, and comprehensive and balanced. Is it enjoyable? Yes.' Management Today 'Quickly, McDonald gets into his stride... a rattling good read.' The Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Duff McDonald is a journalist and the author of Last Man Standing, a biography of JPMorgan Chase CEO and chairman Jamie Dimon. A contributing editor at Fortune magazine and the New York Observer, he has written for Vanity Fair, New York magazine, Esquire, GQ, Wired, and Time, and has been awarded two Canadian National Magazine Awards. He lives in New York. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Story 9 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As an employee of no less than three large UK-located businesses in the period 1960 to 1990 which were clients of "The Firm" I was both entertained and educated by this book. It explained a great deal about their methodology and faithfully traced the changes made over the period I experienced. I consider it required reading for any management consultant.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great insight 7 April 2014
By Conall
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well written and compelling read.
A real insight into one of the most influential organisations in the world of leadership.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meticulous Research 21 Dec 2013
Consulting firm, McKinsey & Co, has been saddled with lurid descriptions: "Jesuits of commerce", "Marine Corps with calculators", and "MI5 with MBAs". "The Firm" - as it nicknames itself - is sometimes described as secretive and reclusive. This book sets out to discover the truth - and, by and large, succeeds. It debunks many McKinsey myths and gives a deep insight into its culture and leadership. But it is not uncritical and there are parts that McKinsey and its 23,000 alumni won't like.

Author Duff McDonald has done a phenomenal amount of research and seems to have enjoyed unprecedented access to many of McKinsey's normally reticent Managing Directors. The notable exception was Rajat Gupta the MD who was sensationally convicted in 2012 of insider trading in the USA. It is the notoriety of Guptagate that validates the book's description of McKinsey as "controversial". And is probably why so many senior people agreed to be interviewed - to redress the reputational damage.

James McKinsey, a Chicago accountant, in effect invented the profession of management consulting in the 1920s when he peddled some revolutionary ideas about budgeting. His embryonic firm was honed and polished by his protégé, Marvin Bower who established principles and practices which have resulted in a highly distinctive or, as The Firm seems to suggest, a slightly sinister culture.

In the 1980s, recruits were given Bower's own book Perspectives which was handed over like a religious relic to communicate the "McKinsey way". As a piece of literature it was quite hard going. McDonald's book is considerably better written.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER
After briefly but sufficiently reviewing the historical background to the creation and subsequent development of McKinsey & Company," Duff McDonald correlates this frame-of-reference with the process by which "The Firm" has had an increasingly greater impact, not only on American business but indeed on almost every part of the world where business is conducted. However, there are several acknowledgments throughout McDonald's narrative that it is difficult (if not impossible) to quantify the nature and extent of that impact, directly through its client relations and indirectly through its former partners who have relocated to corporate C-suites and through books and articles published by partners and former partners.

Here in Dallas near the downtown area, there is a Farmer's Market at which some of the merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples of their wares. In that spirit, I now provide a few brief excerpts.

"[Alfred] Sloan and his ilk were perfect customers for McKinsey: Lacking the legitimization of actual ownership, professional managers felt great pressures to show they were using cutting-edge practices. And who better to bring those practices to their attention than consultants who were talking to everyone else?" (Pages 19-20)

"From the very beginning, James McKinsey went to great lengths to distinguish his firm from its less savory predecessors -- he and his partners had multiple university degrees and strong connections to the establishment. And just as McKinsey flipped accounting on its head, he and his contemporaries likewise turned Taylorism on its head. Instead of focusing on line workers at the bottom of the organizational chart, they zeroed in on the growing white-collar bureaucracy and top managers.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Why is this book 'not available for purchase'? 31 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Why is this book 'not available for purchase'? Can someone from Amazon let me know please?
Thank You in advance.
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