This text explores why, despite long-standing evidence indicating that a committed work-force is essential for success, firms continue to attach little importance to their workers. The answer, argues the author, resides in a complex web of factors based on perception, history, legislation and practice that continues to dominate management thought and action. He investigates each of these factors to get to the root of the problem. The work begins by examining why certain long-discredited perceptions of human behaviour persist in organizations. It then recounts the history of legislation and labour relations and their legacy of distrust and confrontation. Finally, it explores various aspects of the manager/employee relationship and highlights how it has been undermined. However, some organizations have been able to overcome these problems. Indeed, the five common stocks with the highest returns between 1972 and 1992 - Southwest Airlines, Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods, Circuit City and Plenum Publishing - were in industries that shared virtually none of the characteristics traditionally associated with strategic success. What each of these firms did share was the ability to produce sustainable competitive advantage through its use of managing people. The work documents how they, and others, resisted traditional management pitfalls, and offers frameworks for implementing these changes in any industry.
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