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In less than two decades -- about "two minutes" in world history time -- Japan will succeed the United States as the world's productivity leader, and in the twenty-first century this Pacific nation will become the world's economic leader. The United States will drop back to number two or three in the global economy, burdened with a large foreign debt, and faced with a relatively lower standard of living, following the path of decline of Great Britain and other former world leaders.
So predict C. Jackson Grayson, Jr., and Carla O'Dell, two of the world's leading authorities on productivity, unless American government, management, and labor can work together-and soon -- to revive American productivity growth and bolster the quality of American products and services. Showing how hundreds of companies including Xerox, Federal Express, Ford, IBM, and Motorola are successfully responding to the competitive challenge, the authors make a compelling case that American industry can benefit from the lessons of history, learn to adjust, and thus retain its world economic leadership.
Speaking directly to managers, Grayson and O'Dell offer a wealth of practical suggestions for American business in their specific ten-part "Agenda for Adjustment." Based on their experience with successful firms, the Agenda spells out workable recommendations for improvement -- from operating systems and organization structure, to employment stability and compensation systems.
American Business: A Two-Minute Warning also addresses the role of government in industrial revitalization. Grayson and O'Dell contend that much of what is recommended for government action tackles the wrong problems. Not only will such proposed responses fail, they argue, but they will make the situation worse. They then make specific suggestions for what government should -- and should not -- do.
The stakes are enormous. Few single issues will have a greater impact than productivity and quality on the everyday lives, aspirations, and futures of Americans and their children. Grayson and O'Dell's message' grow or decline. A two-minute warning. And there are no timeouts left.
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