A noted business historian presents captivating profiles of corporate blunders, with illuminating insights into the misguided motives that make promising concepts fail and industry giants crumble. Packard, E.J. Korvette, RCA, Drexel Burnham Lambert, Pabst, Schwinn. Once industry leaders, these companies all suffered devastating--and, in some cases, fatal--setbacks because of one pivotal mistake. A renowned writer and speaker who has traced the missteps of corporate America, Robert Sobel offers a fascinating look at 15 glaring and enlightening product flops and management foibles. Rather than call attention to corporate greed or foolishness, the author reveals surprisingly sound reasoning behind some of the worst moves in modern business history. Capturing tragic mistakes in the making, each chapter spotlights a key blunder committed by a onetime mover and shaker. Critical errors include: tinkering with winning products--or marketing "downscale" versions; getting blindsided by rivals or government regulations; striving to outdo a famed predecessor; fighting technology--or sheepishly following every innovation; and mistaking temporary industry changes for permanent ones--or vice versa. Lively and eye-opening, WHEN GIANTS STUMBLE explores a side of business history too seldom discussed, with valuable lessons for both thriving and floundering companies.
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Over the years, Robert Sobel (Dangerous Dreamers, For Want of a Nail, Coolidge) has discovered that you can learn as much from analyzing a business's failure as its success. In When Giants Stumble: Classic Business Blunders and How to Avoid Them, the Hofstra University business-history professor zeroes in on 15 devastating failures that either severely damaged companies or spelled their doom. "After all, medical people study diseases in order to learn how to keep people healthy. Why not apply the same logic to the study of business blunders?" For example, in a chapter on E.J. Korvette, Sobel explains how founder Eugene Ferkauf created a discount-marketing Goliath that tallied an astounding $1 million in sales when it opened in 1948--only to spiral into bankruptcy by 1980 due to poor hiring practices, undercapitalization, and ill-planned expansion. Other companies that come under Sobel's microscope include Osborne Computer, Montgomery Ward, Pan American World Airways, Schwinn, Pabst, and the NYSE. What was common to all of these companies was that their failure was preceded by great success, which should give many of today's movers and shakers plenty to think about. Recommended. --Howard RothmanAbout the Author:
Robert Sobel is a Lawrence Stessin Distinguished Professor of Business History at Hofstra University. The author of over 40 books, including Dangerous Dreamers: The Financial Innovators from Charles Merrill to Michael Milken, he writes a monthly column on financial history for Barron's. He lives in Long Beach, New York.
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Book Description Prentice-Hall, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: Used: Good. Bookseller Inventory # SONG0788199439