The Democratic Corporation: A Radical Prescription for Recreating Corporate America and Rediscovering Success / Edition 1

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Overview

We all know that American business needs fixing, and there is no shortage of prescriptions: imitate the Japanese, or follow the example of successful firms, or practice right-sizing. But these approaches do not work very well, says Russell Ackoff, because they only attack the problem piecemeal—and it is the entire system of American business that is flawed. In this revolutionary new book by a widely respected business thinker and pioneer in the fields of operations research and systems thinking, Ackoff underscores the urgent need to overhaul the kinds of systems found in America, from our business schools to our boardrooms. And he shows how firms can break out of the mold—and leapfrog the competition in today's volatile economy.
To give managers insight into the concept of organizations, Ackoff shows how they have been viewed since the Renaissance: first as machines, later as organisms, and today as social systems. As social systems, companies produce and distribute wealth and raise our standard of living. They are also responsible for facilitating and encouraging the development of the larger systems that contain them and all their stakeholders. The quality of worklife within an organization is key. Work has to be challenging and enjoyable if workers are to give it their full commitment, and Ackoff outlines major ways to achieve this goal. Along the way, Ackoff explodes a number of fashionable business notions. He asserts that firms that try to imitate successful competitors are doomed to play catch-up forever. He attacks the idea of continuous improvement, showing that it has failed to make quantum leaps in quality, and he demonstrates how to re-orient the pursuit of quality. After revealing the weakness in many current practices, Ackoff describes three organizational schemes that will lead to success. In the Circular Organization, a democratic hierarchy, everyone participates directly or indirectly in decisions that affect their work. In the Internal Market Economy, organizations treat their different parts like a collection of firms doing business with each other—which promotes cooperation and eliminates wasteful internal competition. And with the Multidimensional Organization, a company becomes so powerful and flexible that continuous adaptation can happen without reorganization.
Ackoff caps off the book with an incisive critique of business schools, describing how they must be transformed to turn out the leaders we need for the competitive American organization of the 21st century. Enabling managers to understand the profound interrelationships in the American economy and to tap into them for success, The Democratic Corporation is a major work by an innovative thinker that is certain to cause ripples throughout the business community.

A widely respected business thinker and pioneer in the fields of operations research and systems thinking offers a radical new approach to revitalize the American corporation. Ackoff explodes a number of fashionable business notions and introduces new organizational structures that can give a competitive edge. He cites examples from prominent companies such as General Motors, IBM, Kodak, Alcoa, Dupont, and others.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This sophisticated study describes how the modern firm interacts with society. Ackoff, chair of the Institute for Interactive Management and professor emeritus of the Wharton School, traces the evolving conception of organizations since the Renaissance, first as machines then as organisms and today as social systems; he argues for fundamental changes in the way work is designed and organized and in the way companies are managed. He espouses the stakeholder theory of the firm, in which employees, suppliers, customers, investors, creditors, debtors and government all play a role in helping a company to grow and develop. Ackoff maintains that corporations can be transformed to improve employees' quality of life. An epilogue critiques business schools as ``bastions of dynamic conservatism'' and suggests ways they can better train leaders for the competitive global business environment. Illustrations. June
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195087277
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/28/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Russell L. Ackoff is Chairman of Interact, the Institute for Interactive Management, and Professor Emeritus of the Wharton School. He has written nineteen books.

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Table of Contents

1 The Emerging Concept of an Enterprise 3
2 The Enterprise and Its Stakeholders 36
3 Quality of Work Life and Its Products 69
4 The Circular Organization 110
5 The Organization as a Market Economy 142
6 The Multidimensional Organization 168
Epilogue: New Business Education 197
Appendix: Thinking Backward 231
References 233
Suggested Readings 239
Index 241
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