GOOD WORK: When Excellence and Ethics Meet

Howard Gardner, Author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalhi, Author, William Damon, Author . Basic $27.50 (304p) ISBN 978-0-465-02607-4

In their previous highly regarded research, psychologists Gardner (Multiple Intelligences), Csikszentmihalyi (Flow) and Damon (The Moral Child) have found that "if the fundamentals of good work—excellence and ethics—are in harmony, we lead a personally fulfilling and socially rewarded life." Their latest, somewhat bloated tome posits that today's market forces, industry consolidations and rapid technological change exert unrelenting pressure on every enterprise. The authors investigate two sample professions, genetics and journalism, striving under pressure to do excellent work that still benefits society. From interviews with prominent practitioners, they have assembled an immense, if unwieldy, fund of data on perspectives within each profession. Although certain survey results may seem bland or obvious (82% of geneticists interviewed emphasize their responsibility to society; many journalists feel democracy requires open access to all the news for everyone, and 51% disapprove of changes in the news media), the authors deftly contrast current working conditions in the two professions. They argue that whether a profession is in a self-identified golden age like genetics or a self-critical, transitional stage like journalism, the same "five levers for good work" can apply: creating new institutions, expanding functions of existing institutions, reconfiguring existing institutions' membership and reaffirming their values, and taking personal stands. They advocate continually revisiting "the traditions of the domain" that initially attracted us, to fortify our integrity and commitment to the mission of our profession. Unfortunately, the unsurprising research results, unquestioning reporting and plodding prose don't live up to previous work by these prestigious psychologists. (Oct. 1)

Reviewed on: 09/24/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-7867-2338-6
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-465-02608-1
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