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September 13, 2011


gastro george

"... there’s some evidence that employee performance reviews actually backfire and have a negative effect upon productivity."

There's plenty of evidence. The problem is that most people believe that they are above average, and are disappointed to find out that they are not.

Adam Bell

What you say is very clearly correct, however, there's a broader flaw in your argument which is not apparent when shorn of context. Very similar rhetoric was used in the Soviet Union; 'Progress' having long been a buzzword utilised to enhance the power of a given economic system.

However, under capitalism we do have a mechanism for sorting out power structures that are inadequate from those that are not, which we call the market. What your argument does demonstrate is that managerialism in the public sector is almost certainly self-defeating, and greater discretion should be given to people directly charged with delivering services than is presently the case.


@ Adam - you're right. My point wasn't intended to apply only to companies. The same's true (maybe more so) in government.

Lee T

Management requires change, because change requires management. What that change is (in this instance, progress is change) is not entirely relevant. Without change to manage, management is bored and in fear of redundancy. So it's, rather too often, self-preservation and, of course, self-enrichment.

I write as a manager in an organisation where the decision is being taken to increase value by doing everything that we already do, but with less management. If this catches on, I'm going to go and get a proper job.

Luis Enrique

but Nick Bloom has also shown that huge gains can be achieved when management is cajoled into making progress, changing practices ... see his field experiments introducing management consulting to Indian textile firms for instance


Tim Almond

"For the truly excellent, its enough to maintain a plateau."

Except that the likes of Toyota and Honda don't do that. They continuous look at ways to change their process. In fact, what the article talks about is what those companies have been doing for decades.

I know you have a dim view of management. I think you should get out more, because a lot of them are pretty good.

Philip Walker

If we're playing the Wonderland game, the White Queen promised jam tomorrow, but the Red Queen supposed that one had to keep running to stand still. Perhaps what Tim is getting at?

There's a thought cooking about proficiency as ability to generate success (and therefore as a capacity for flow rather than a stock in itself) but I can't quite get it in line.


What look like neutral, technical, jargon-laded issues of management are in fact means by which power is exercised and legitimated

Ya think?

gastro george

"Except that the likes of Toyota and Honda don't do that. They continuous look at ways to change their process. In fact, what the article talks about is what those companies have been doing for decades."

Excellent point. And it clarifies something that is maybe absent from the OP. Some organisations have a static view of management, and "progress" is achieved through management reorganisation. Others have change built-in to the management structure and view. And it's not just in Japan that this happens. You can look at Gore in the US, HP before it sold out to Compaq, etc.


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