Why Work

Michael Maccoby, like many before him, proclaims an impending revolution in the economy. The “economic man,” beloved of Adam Smith and subsequent practitioners in the field, has had his day. Instead of striving for unlimited wealth, the most successful executives now aim for a combination of flexible and technically challenging work with sufficient time to enjoy fulfilling lives outside the job. Promotions and salaries, in this view, decline in importance; autonomy and innovation take their place in the preferences of the new sort of manager.

These changed values have accompanied alterations in the structure of the economy. Corporations find that large bureaucracies lack the ability to alter techniques rapidly in order to fill the needs of customers who, relying on the increased scope of technology, demand products made to fit their varied individual needs. The market no longer finds adequate the standardized brands that hierarchically controlled giant corporations produced in abundance.

Maccoby’s depiction of the new executives fits precisely his analysis of the economy. Exactly the new type of business leader he has described is best suited to offer consumers the individualized services on which they now insist. The author coins the not altogether pleasing neologism “technoservice” for the new managerial skills.

How has Maccoby arrived at his conclusions? Not lacking in thoroughness, he has employed three principal methods of investigation. First, he submitted a detailed questionnaire to more than three thousand business employees. He also conducted personal interviews with one hundred executives; and, finally, he has relied on his detailed knowledge of several corporations gained through his work as a consultant. Maccoby’s valuable study will interest both business and academic readers.