cover image Beyond the Looking Glass

Beyond the Looking Glass

Alan Downs. AMACOM/American Management Association, $24.95 (236pp) ISBN 978-0-8144-0343-3

Downs argues that one of the major problems confronting companies today is ""corporate narcissism,"" which he defines as a company focusing on only one thing--profit--while ignoring social responsibility, employee needs and the environment. To a corporate narcissist, the most effective management tool is downsizing, and the narcissist will cut costs down to the bone in order to reap profits for him- or herself. The narcissist isn't concerned with how the job gets done, only that he or she looks good after the project is completed. Downs includes case studies to illustrate how the narcissist approach may help companies in the short term but, ultimately, will hurt them. Companies that he takes to task for adopting this approach include Apple, Bausch & Lomb and Oracle. Downs (Corporate Executions) proposes solutions for dealing with corporate narcissism, such as identifying a company's core competency and sticking to it, while also using regular performance appraisals and ongoing training. He has particular praise for the Levi Strauss company, whose policy emphasizes diversity, employee recognition, ethical management practices and communication. By identifying corporate narcissism as a problem that plagues many American companies, Downs's suggested solutions are likely to cause debate among upper-level executives and rank-and-file employees. (May)