Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Management is One of America's Great Strengths

Dear Colleagues

Management is one of America's great strengths. Americans have been decades ahead of the rest of the world in management creativity, and this has helped to build the American economy and its wealth.

The story of the industrial era in the United States was only possible because some of the great industrial entrepreneurs were also great managers.

I did not understand this until I observed the difference in productivity between the integrated iron and steel mills in the USA and in the UK and Europe. American managers were pushing the technology to the limit in cooperation with the steelworkers ... and steelworkers were being paid much more than in the UK and Europe, yet US manufactured product was costing less ... significantly less.

Famously ... the building of the Esso oil refinery in Fawley in the UK went smoothly with hardly any labor stoppages. This was at a time when labor unrest was rampant in the UK ... and explained by the willingness of American managers to become involved with the work and figure out how to solve problems. As Vic Feather is reported to have said "The American managers put gumboots on ... and got shoulder under ..." while the UK manager at the time would merely have "written a memo criticizing the workers!"

Great managers have continued to be important for the US as great science has been applied in all sorts of technological development ...

But sadly great managers have not been as visible in defending the commons of society as a whole ... not in the US, and not around the world.

It is to be hoped that management, American style, can be deployed in the future to get efficiency and effectiveness in all the areas where society needs initiative, and not only in profit maximizing situations.


Peter Burgess

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