Global Corporate Intelligence: Opportunities, Technologies, and Threats in the 1990s

By George S. Roukis; Hugh Conway et al. | Go to book overview

has happened or is about to happen are not merely in conflict with what managements had hoped and expected would happen, but, especially in their upper authoritarian reaches, with what would be permitted to happen.

It is not easy and is often a source of pained surprise when those accustomed to command at the top of a corporate or governmental hierarchy have to recognize that on this occasion at least, things are not going to go their way and that their attempts to order markets, individuals, politicians, or even small countries around are likely to fail. Such reactions recall the reply of the feebleminded Emperor Ferdinand of Austria when he was informed at the beginning of the revolution of 1848 that the people of Vienna were tearing up cobblestones and fashioning them into barricades: "Are they allowed to do that?"

As a result, those who furnish information to managements in the media, as consultants or as staffers, constantly face obstacles to presenting unvarnished truths. Some newspapers and magazines tend toward soothing syrup; others, as well as most newsletters, thrive on alarmism and on redefining intelligence as information that the reader is really not supposed to have. Such claims are not always accurate, let alone world shaking, but they cast their purveyors as combatants in the old American battle between the document shredders and the Xerox machines. The conflict between professional integrity and safeguarding one's own "market" is thus often profound, even though it is a manifest waste of time and money to buy information and then filter out everything one does not want to hear.

There is no general magic way of fixing troubles; much of good management consists of avoiding pitfalls. As this chapter shows, these abound when trouble looms, and there are many readily definable ways to make them worse. Avoiding them and approaching troubles with a clear head and perhaps a touch of humility is still the best strategy.


NOTES
1.
J. K. Galbraith, "From Stupidity to Cupidity," New York Review of Books, November 24, 1988, 12.
2.
For a classic collection of case studies, see, among others, T. L. Berg, Mismarketing: Case Histories of Marketing Misfires ( New York: Anchor, 1970).
3.
W. H. Whyte Jr., Is Anybody Listening? ( New York: Simon and Schuster, 1952).
4.
W. H. Whyte Jr., The Organization Man ( New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954).
5.
See, for example, A. A. Marcus, The Adversary Economy ( Westport, Conn.: Quorum, 1954).
6.
L. H. Lapham, Money and Class in America ( New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1988), 160.

-122-

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