Our Least Important Asset: Why the Relentless Focus on Finance and Accounting Is Bad for Business and Employees

Oxford Univ. Jul. 2023. 272p. ISBN 9780197629802. $29.95. BUS
Director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources, Cappelli (management, the Wharton Sch., Univ. of Pennsylvania; The Future of the Office) here demonstrates that many jobs have become worse, but not for reasons readers may think. He blames financial accounting practices, which he defines as viewing employee costs as fixed ones; the problem, the author says, is that this perspective does not account for the price of poor management and employees. Cappelli maintains that financial accounting limits the workplace and its employees by setting a quirky set of standards. The book demonstrates that these practices can typically push managers into squeezing employee expenses. For example, some may opt to shift work from staffers to contractual workers. Not only does that often lead to employees feeling undermined, but it also typically results in an increase of other costs. This book describes and analyzes how this approach links to common and poor hiring practices, work allocations between vendors and employees, workplace structures, and performance management. Readers wanting to learn more about these practices will benefit from this title’s extensive bibliographical references for further reading.
VERDICT A thought-provoking and important study for managers or faculty and students in business and management programs.
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