By Michael Malone
Malone (coauthor of The Virtual Corporation) surveys the growing virtualization of the workplace and the dismantling of traditional organizational structures to argue that we need ways of thinking about organizations that reflect the changing reality of the people who are part of them.
The solution, he asserts, is the protean corporation, distinguished by its ability to constantly restructure itself to changing circumstances and new opportunities. Praising such corporations as Google, Wikipedia and the U.S. Army, Malone contends that these early-stage shape-shifters behave like perpetual entrepreneurial startups, continuously changing their form, direction and identity. He also examines the historical, technological and entrepreneurial evolution of the corporation and envisions the structure, behavior and impact of numerous protean organizations on the American economy and culture.
Insightful and visionary, this book will appeal to forward-thinking executives who aim to develop their companies in the tumultuous and ever-changing global marketplace.
From Publishers Weekly (May)
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Malone, a journalist specializing in technology and business, presents his ideas on how companies will adapt to an emerging world that brings together the wireless Web, intelligent cell phones, billions of new consumers from developing countries, and a dedicated entrepreneurial culture.
To be “protean,” corporations (not-for-profits and government agencies) will consistently function as new business start-ups, 80 percent staffed with entrepreneurs operating far from corporate headquarters—independent, empowered to use their own judgment, taking risks in developing new markets, and less attached to their employer.
The 20 percent minority will be people who seek stability, are risk-averse, and will be vital to maintaining the corporate culture and preserving the institutional memory; they will be key to long-term survival. Google and Wikipedia are early-stage protean organizations, as is the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although all may not agree with Malone, entrepreneurs will revel in the historic opportunities he sees for them; and if his ideas contribute to corporate discussions and planning, his objectives will be met. Excellent book.
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