When Giants Stumble: Classic Business Blunders and How to Avoid Them

Overview

In When Giants Stumble, renowned business writer and speaker Robert Sobel offers an insightful analysis of fifteen corporate catastrophes fueled by product flops or management foibles. Capturing tragic mistakes in the making, he goes behind the scenes to reveal the histories and management philosophies of the companies involved, the alternative courses of action available to (and recognized by) the managers involved, and the reasoning behind the fateful choices that were made. In the process, he shows business ...
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Overview

In When Giants Stumble, renowned business writer and speaker Robert Sobel offers an insightful analysis of fifteen corporate catastrophes fueled by product flops or management foibles. Capturing tragic mistakes in the making, he goes behind the scenes to reveal the histories and management philosophies of the companies involved, the alternative courses of action available to (and recognized by) the managers involved, and the reasoning behind the fateful choices that were made. In the process, he shows business professionals how they can learn from the mistakes of their predecessors, and guide their own companies onto the path of future prosperity.
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Editorial Reviews

Anne Fisher
Anyone who is curious about what sparks spectacular "fires" should get a kick out of the 15 case studies here. In each of them, from Osborne Computer to brewers Schlitz and Pabst to the Penn Central Railroad, Sobel identifies one main failing that eventually caused all the trouble, whether it was hubris, nepotism, willy-nilly conglomeration, or simply what the author calls "ineptitude." ...Don't miss Sobel's analysis of what really brought down erstwhile Wall Street powerhouse Drexel Burnham Lambert "and its chief asset, Michael Milken."
Fortune
Fortune
You may come away from these pages feeling pretty smart. In the sly, low-key voice that has characterized all his books (he wrote more than 50 of them before his death in June, at age 68, from brain cancer, Sobel explains precisely why each of his subjects' horrifically bad decisions seemed perfectly reasonable, even brilliant, at the time it was made.
Barron's
Barron's contributor Robert Sobel's collection of cautionary tales offers a look at 15 product flops, management gaffes and judgment errors of Corporate America, revealing surprisingly sound reasoning behind some of the worst moves in modern history.
Library Journal
Sobel (Coolidge: An American Enigma, LJ 6/1/98), a business historian, educator, and columnist for Barron's, has created a well-written account of 15 former industry leaders, with chapter headings such as "E.J. Korvette: The Blunder of Hubris," "W.R. Grace: The Blunder of Nonstrategic Expansion," and "Drexel Burnham: The Blunder of Isolation." Each chapter begins with a brief history of the company and progresses to the events leading to its setback and/or decline. As Sobel demonstrates, there are important lessons to be learned from these errors. The roots of failure include inadequate funding, changing markets and technologies, competition, government regulations, lack of concern for customers, and too much idealism combined with a lack of expertise in a particular area. Sobel points out that although most of the companies do not still exist in their original forms today, some are still lingering in the shadows. Highly recommended for business leaders and upper-level academic business libraries.--Bellinda Wise, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780735200593
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/1999
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 1.35 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Business Blunders
1 Osborne Computer: The Blunder of Ineptitude 1
2 E. J. Korvette: The Blunder of Hubris 27
3 Kaiser-Frazer: The Blunder of Ignorance 45
4 RCA: The Blunder of Nepotism 65
5 W. R. Grace: The Blunder of Nonstrategic Expansion 87
6 Packard: The Blunder of Downward Brand Extension 107
7 Schlitz and Pabst: The Blunder of Cutting Corners 127
8 James Ling: The Blunder of Fighting the Government 147
9 Drexel Burnham Lambert: The Blunder of Isolation 165
10 The Penn Central: The Blunder of the Mismatch 189
11 Pan American World Airways: The Blunder of Dependency 213
12 Montgomery Ward: The Blunder of the Stopped Clock 239
13 American Tobacco: The Blunder of Standing Pat 259
14 The New York Stock Exchange: The Blunder of the Narrow View 279
15 Schwinn: Multiple Blunders 301
Conclusion 327
Selected Bibliography 337
Index 343
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