Marriott Alumni Magazine

Fall Winter 1977 Exchange

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EXCHANGE: BOOKS MEN AND WOMEN OF THE CORPORATION Rosabeth Moss Kanter Basic Books, $12 .00 The stage for Men and Women of the Corporation is a company the author calls "Industrial Supply Corporation" (lndsco); the plot thickens around the corporation's effect on the people who work within its structures; and the climax offers plans for rewriting some existing scenes. lndsco is painted as a large, powerful, multinational corporation with a "social conscience." Not only are managers, secretaries, and minorities portrayed, but corporate wives and their careers (which are tied to their husband's advancements) are also examined. Each situation shapes the individual "by confronting him or her with characteristic dilemmas and constricting the range of options for response." Thus, each one must choose a stance with respect to his or her position within the organization. Focusing primarily on timely issues. Kanter offers some additional perspectives on unresolved matters as well as some logical but seldom tried remedies; e.g., on power and powerlessness "too few empowered" is solved through a wider sharing of power. Regarding the issues of minorities vs. majorities and tokenism: ''Numbers- proportional representation-are important not only because they symbolize the presence or absence of discrimination but also because they have real consequences for performance." At the drama's conclusion there is no climax to bring the audience to its feet cheering. This stems not from the quality of ideas- many of Kanter's suggestions for intervention are, in fact, practical and concrete methods individuals could use to improve their daily working lives- but rather from the limited scope of the suggestions. Kanter herself looks to "the transforming power of outside intervention" to modify organizational structure. Those implementing her suggestions do not really modify organizational structure at all. The description is interesting and clearly supported, but the concluding suggestions are not very efficacious for the individual. -Carey Petersen LOOKING OUT FOR NUMBER 1 Robert J. Ringer Funk & Wagnalls, $6.95 In Looking Out for Number 1, Ringer's underlying philosophy is that people should do "those things which bring the greatest pleasure"- in other words, look out for themselves. His proposed means to this end include making choices, acting rationally, and controlling external forces in the environment. By following his "simple" guidelines, he says, we can hope to overcome hurdles that hinder our self-aggrandizement. These hurdles include: • The tendency to blow up daily problems into major catastrophes. (He terms this the "Perspective Hurdle.") • Decision making and actions based on emotional reaction instead of exclusively on facts. (Reality Hurdle) • People who infiltrate and clutter our lives unnecessarily. (People Hurdle) • Such futile causes as our desires to "join" and to "lash out." (Crusade Hurdle) • Financial crises and setbacks that we allow to frustrate our efforts to gain pleasure. (Financial Hurdle) • Friends accumulated by chance instead of selected for the right reason and circumstance. (Friendship Hurdle) • Love as an enslaving emotion rather than a self-satisfying tool for increased happiness and pleasure. (Love Hurdle) By identifying, clarifying, and overcoming these seven hurdles, Ringer proposes a new life, a renovated life "where the pleasures far exceed the moments of unpleasantness.'' While Ringer's ideas and philosophy contain face validity and offer helpful hints for "hurdling," he falls into some traps. For example, he repeatedly advocates making "rational" choices, decisions based on fact and reality. The irony of this logic is that the most "rational" system is the computer. The IBM 360 has a proper perspective of reality, few problems with people, crusades, finances, and no friendship or love hang-ups, but... Nonetheless, Looking Out For Number 1 does supply helpful suggestions for directing our lives. Even if the hints have multiple hidden traps, they at least have some value in their perspective and wit. -David Ulrich

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