Buying Into Latest Management Fads Can Cause Companies to Fail, New Book By UB Management Professor Says

Release Date: December 11, 1998

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- TQM, re-engineering, benchmarking and other management fads abound in today's business environment, but buying into these strategies can cause many companies to falter, not improve, warns a new book authored by a University at Buffalo management professor.

In "Handbook of Strategies and Tools for the Learning Company," C. Carl Pegels, a professor of management science and systems in the UB School of Management, contends that companies that focus on just one or two of the "hot" strategies for improvement often jeopardize the success of their businesses in the long run.

"It's dangerous for companies, small or large, to get carried away with implementing the latest management fad; some have even gone bankrupt," says Pegels.

"Often managers become enamored with one or two management strategies that improve a few areas of their business, but in the meantime other areas of the business suffer and the entire company slides downhill as a result."

As an example, Pegels points to companies that have focused heavily on strategies for customer-service improvement at the expense of productivity, only to realize later that they consistently were being out-performed by the competition.

In his book, Pegels analyzes the large menu of management strategies available to managers today and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each strategy within different business environments.

He suggests that instead of implementing cookie-cutter solutions via the latest management trends, companies explore all areas where they are weak -- relative to the competition -- and then implement a portfolio of management strategies to address all of the weaknesses.

"The best way for a company to maintain a competitive advantage is to employ several strategies as part of an on-going process of self-evaluation," Pegels says. "Avoid being distracted by the allure of the latest management fad."

This approach, he says, is called the "learning company" strategy of management. It requires a company to adapt constantly to changes in the external environment by practicing continual renewal of its structure and practices.

"To be successful in today's business environment, a company must reinvent itself constantly," Pegels says. "It must continually assess its place in the market and then make improvements and adjustments based on what it learns. Otherwise, the competition will pass it by."

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