Competitive Advantage Through People

Overview

Competitive Advantage Through People explores why—despite long-standing evidence that a committed work force is essential for success—firms continue to attach little importance to their workers. The answer, argues Pfeffer, resides in a complex web of factors based on perception, history, legislation, and practice that continues to dominate management thought and action. Yet, some organizations have been able to overcome these obstacles. In fact, the five common stocks with the highest returns between 1972 and ...
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Overview

Competitive Advantage Through People explores why—despite long-standing evidence that a committed work force is essential for success—firms continue to attach little importance to their workers. The answer, argues Pfeffer, resides in a complex web of factors based on perception, history, legislation, and practice that continues to dominate management thought and action. Yet, some organizations have been able to overcome these obstacles. In fact, the five common stocks with the highest returns between 1972 and 1992—Southwest Airlines, Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods, Circuit City, and Plenum Publishing—were in industries that shared virtually none of the characteristics traditionally associated with strategic success. What each of these firms did share is the ability to produce sustainable competitive advantage through its way of managing people. Pfeffer documents how they—and others—resisted traditional management pitfalls, and offers frameworks for implementing these changes in any industry.A Library Journal Best Business Book of the Year. "A masterful, riveting performance."—Tom Peters
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this notable work, Pfeffer ( Managing with Power ) pierces the ``sacred veil'' of strategic planning theory. Rejecting Michael Porter's acclaimed positions on the overriding significance of competitors, market substitutes, buyers and suppliers, Pfeffer insists that managers cannot rely solely ``on technology, patents, or strategic position.'' Why not? Because ``Product life cycles are shortening and new-product introductions are coming much more rapidly.'' Pfeffer stipulates instead that ``people and how we manage them are becoming more important.'' Expanding on this thesis, he discusses creating detailed procedures for employee training, development and participation in the corporation's life. Augmenting these are considerations of America's labor relations system, total quality management (TQM) procedures and an array of economic principles (specifically, ``transaction cost economics'' and ``presumed efficiency of hierarchy''). Pfeffer, a Stanford Business School professor, has crafted a cogent, impressive business study. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Pfeffer brilliantly unravels the social, political, and historical rationalizations that dominate managers' treatment of the work force. After demonstrating how successful firms overcome the counterproductive effects of mismanaging labor, this highly noted author and professor at Stanford University's business school offers practical suggestions for shifting direction, countering resistance, and implementing practices to achieve competitive success through people. A caveat pervades this heavily referenced work: those firms that maintain the delimiting thinking of Frederick Taylor will not succeed. This outstanding work complements Building the Competitive Workforce (Wiley, 1993), edited by Philip H. Mirvis. Highly recommended for business collections, managers, and informed readers.-- J. P. Miller, GSLIS, Simmons Coll., Boston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780875847177
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.07 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Pt. I Performance through People
1 Sources of Sustained Success 3
2 What Effective Firms Do with People 27
3 The Evidence for Slow Learning and Unrealized Potential 67
Pt. II Barriers to Doing the Right Thing
4 Wrong Heroes, Wrong Theories, Wrong Language 93
5 Overcoming History 117
6 Labor Laws, Lawyers, and Litigation: Friends or Foes of Work Place Change? 137
7 Employee Organizations: Their Effects and Role in Work Place Reform 159
8 Resistance from Within 183
Pt. III Prospects for Change
9 The Promise of the Quality Movement 205
10 Making the Change 223
Notes 255
Index 273
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