on 22 August 2001
A brilliant and insightful text on learning to control and live with the dangerous but highly beneficial animal that is "Capitalism". I had to read it twice, partly for pure enjoyment and partly to fully appreciate the concepts and ideas that Charles was championing. A must read for anyone that has an interest in the politics of economics and the workplace. Charles raises many interesting points that deserve or demand consideration. Charles has a brilliant and extremely readable style of writing that draws you in to his world as if he were chatting to you over a few drinks. This book certainly deserves a place on your shelf and his ideas a place in your life.
on 13 July 2010
As a management visionary Charles Handy is very impressive. I found the idea of the citizen company intriguing. As a social critic he is very eclectic and we are on the whole treated with a hotch potch of ideas, borrowed from numerous sources. Basically he is an old fashioned liberal conservative and from this point of view he reflects 10 years or so ahead of its time the type of Conservatism propounded by the current Tory leadership in the UK today.
on 17 November 2011
If you have a serious interest in business or economics then don't read this book. It's one of the worst books on business that I've ever read. Arguing from a position of ignorance is never acceptable. Charles Handy dismisses evolution as mechanical determinism without even bothering to research the subject. He says things like "It is this self-awareness that allows us to develop the idea of progress, an idea which scientists agree is not naturally there in the process of evolution". The evidence that he uses to support this assertion is a conversation that he had with a friend over a bottle of wine on an Italian terrace.
As a scientist with a special interest in evolutionary processes, I can say that he's completely wrong. "Most scientists" don't hold these views and most scientists would probably like to state their own views rather than being misrepresented. Evolution is an information process of learning and therefore not fundamentally deterministic or materialist. In fact the ability to measure information gain by evolutionary process is a major advance of the 20th century. In lay terms, evolutionary processes are analogous to progress. This is the opposite of Charles Handy's clichéd representation of nature/nurture. Evolution evolves new ways of learning (e.g. intelligence) and this is sometimes called meta-evolution. A failure to understand evolution may be forgiveable but not the lack of understanding of the history of growth theory. Failure to understand evolution also indicates a failure to understand Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, Robert Solow and Paul Romer. From a so-called business guru, this is an unforgivable lack of research.