Fixing the Game: Bubbles, Crashes, and What Capitalism Can Learn from the NFL

Roger L. Martin. Harvard Business Review, $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4221-7164-6
Amid the glut of economics books and theories saturating current markets emerges a unique concept. Martin, dean of University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, proposes that capitalism can avoid bubbles and crashes by emulating the NFL. In the NFL the focus of the real game is on the fans, rather than the owners. Therefore, the goal is to put a real product on the field. If it pleases the fans, it will then reward the owners. Martin (The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage) argues that corporations aim to "feather [the] nests" of their executives which leads to market upheavals based on an "expectations" market rather than a real market of tangible goods and services. If the real market is dominant, companies will focus on even better ways to serve their customers, as opposed to focusing on traders in an "expectations" market; in turn they will always profit, regardless of the results. Martin cites well-known examples of corporate greed but also details the psychological toll on many executives who lose their "sense of authenticity" in the current climate. He concludes his very accessible text with suggestions for reform that will improve both authenticity and the bottom line. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/30/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
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