Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream

Farrar. Sept. 2019. 320p. notes. index. ISBN 9780374277888. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780374713782. ECON
Journalist Lemann (The Promised Land) examines approximately two centuries of economic organization through the lenses of three vastly different theories that can be categorized by the terms institutions, transactions, and networks. The first theoretical framework is associated with American economist Adolf Berle, who believed that only large concentrated corporate institutions could lead to economic stability, contain the resources to innovate new technologies, and promote social good. The next framework is associated with American economist Michael Jensen, who put his faith in market structures as an organizational force. The final framework is associated with Reid Hoffman, a Silicon Valley billionaire and innovator who cofounded social media companies, such as LinkedIn. Hoffman asserts that new economies and opportunities are being forged through social networks. Lemann acknowledges that economics is complex by skillfully analyzing macro- and microeconomic interrelationships and examining each theory’s strengths, weaknesses, and overall flaws. It becomes clearer how economics impacts different societal layers. Overall, no economic institution achieves the dream of universal equality, prosperity, and stability.
VERDICT Through the stories of individuals, often from varied neighborhoods, businesses, and corporations, Lemann makes these experiences come alive. Readers can use this insightful business history to guide their forecasts

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