The Value Motive – The Only Alternative to the Profit Motive

Author: Paul Kearns
Price: £29.99
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Pages: 288
ISBN: 0470057556

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This is not a management book in the traditional sense; neither is it a book about finance, people management or the HR function, although it has major implications for anyone working in these disciplines. Arguably, it’s a book about economic theory, but unlike many textbooks, it takes a stand on the big issues.

Kearns is a controversial character who enjoys debunking conventional wisdom in a no-holds-barred style, which makes for easy reading of a potentially difficult subject. His basic proposition is that the primary purpose of an organisation is to manage for maximum value. For this to happen, we need different conventions and methods for managing and measuring business performance. Along the way he unveils a cynicism for corporate social responsibility, questions diversity targets, and explores the moral and ethical issues of managing organisations in complex, global markets.

Although it doesn’t deal directly with HR issues, this book should be compulsory reading for all HR professionals. It reminds us that performance and outputs are what matter most, and that maximum value can only be achieved by maximising the value of people.

Kearns makes his case with a passion, although at times it’s opinionated, strident and single-minded. Nevertheless, intelligent readers will strap themselves in, enjoy the intellectual journey, and form their own opinions.

Don’t read this book if you’re looking for the answers in pre-formatted templates – it’s an invitation to think in new ways and find your own solutions to the issues raised.

Useful? Three out of five stars
Well written? Five out of five stars  
Practical? One out of five stars
Inspirational? Five out of five stars
Value for money? Four out of five stars
Overall? Four out of five stars

Steve Foster, manager, HR business strategy, Northgate HR

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