BOOKCASE Three Fawlty Sisters

Globalization and its Discontents
By: Joseph Stiglitz
Publisher: Penguin Books
Price: $27.95

“If it weren’t for the guests I’d love the hotel business,” or words to that effect were delivered by John Cleese, aka Basil Fawlty of television’s funny Fawlty Towers. And that’s pretty much how executives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) view their client customers, the countries that turn to them for funds and advice, according to former insider and economics Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz. The problem is, it’s not so funny in the real world of global finance and trade.

Stiglitz’ controversial Globalization and its Discontents is now out in soft cover – so no excuse for the penny conscious to refrain from reading the most important and authoritative expose of the workings of the IMF and its sister world funding policy setting organisations, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

His hypothesis is simple and the arguments persuasively put:-“The developed world needs to do its part to reform the [three] international institutions that govern globalisation.” Put simply, they have failed to deliver on their promise and have been captured by the well off and industrial countries, at the expense of the poor and developing nations of the world.

The author’s credentials for making the claim and delivering the evidence are impeccable. Stiglitz was chief economist at the World Bank until January 2000. Before that he was chairman of President Clinton’s council of Economic Advisors. He is currently professor of finance and economics at Columbia University and he won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2001.

It is frightening but important tale, packed with evidential buckshot to support statements like:”A half century after its founding, it is clear that the IMF has failed in its mission. Worse, many of the policies that the IMF pushed, in particular premature capital market liberalisation, have contributed to global instability. And once country was in crisis, IMF funds and programmes not only failed to stabilise the situation but in many cases actually made matters worse, especially for the poor.”

But while it is at once damning of the vested interest and bureaucratic ineptitude of these three sisters of power and financial influence, it contains message of hope. I personally don’t subscribe to it after watching recent world events unfold but that’s another story.

The book is sadly appropriate to the New Zealand condition. It is even ironic that one of our former political leaders, Mike Moore, should end up riding shotgun for one of the key players, the WTO. The parallel between New Zealand’s experiment with rapid fire privatisation and the experiences of other countries forced to endure the same unthinking and unplanned process, is all too real.

Every New Zealand manager and leader with the capacity to momentarily set ideology aside to consider other economic realities should read this book. As Stiglitz suggests: ” … if we are to make globalisation work for the billions of people for whom it has not, if we are to make globalisation with human face succeed, then our voices must be raised”.

Winning the Knowledge Game
By: Alastair Rylatt
Publisher: McGraw Hill
Price: $39.95

Something practical. Winning the Knowledge Game is, in the words of the extended title, an attempt to deliver “a smarter strategy for better business in Australia and New Zealand”.

It is 234 pages of checklists, suggestions, do’s and don’ts about how to tap and develop your personal and work-a-day knowledge sources. The author contends that an individual manager’s career success is linked to how well “we position our knowledge and build on each other’s genius”. Managers, he argues, have to acquire diverse and often complex range of skills to succeed and this is particularly true for the “challenge of winning the knowledge game”.

Winning the game requires winning strategy. And winning strategy requires:
• Knowing your business and positioning your knowledge;
• Creating safe place for people to toss around ideas;
• Eliminating behaviour such as bullying, hoarding of information and backstabbing;
• Encouraging people to be intelligent together;
• Making clear why sharing is important.

A simple and easy-to-use book that provides practical advice on strategies, tactics and systems.

The books for these reviews supplied by Dymocks Atrium. Available from [email protected]. Ph: 0-9-379 9919, Fax: 0-9-379 9555.

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