The reaction from some readers to last week’s Comment appears to suggest
some topics in the present international crisis should be off limits. Personnel
Today supports the article and I stand by our decision to publish it.
It is worth adding that similar issues have been discussed elsewhere in the
media. The Guardian, for example, has published an article comparing the
efficiency of the Al Qaeda network with that of the West’s intelligence
Personnel Today, together with all decent people, abhors the actions of the
terrorists on 11 September. Since the events of that day the magazine has
produced a wealth of coverage of the attack and analysis of its repercussions.
The CIPD, of which John Philpott is the chief economist, has also put every
effort into mitigating against the dire effects of the tragedy.
In the piece the author makes it clear that he opposes the fanatical goals
and values of the terrorists. He is clear that the use of the high-performance
organisational model to support the objective of mass murder is completely
The author’s point is that Bin Laden’s devastatingly effective network may
be based on management theory he learned in the West, and it is ironic that
most western organisations have not adopted similarly effective models. The
author does not condone the strategy of the terrorists, as one correspondent
suggests, he explicitly separates the issue of organisational structure from
that of strategy.
Another objection is that it is insensitive or tasteless to consider the
terrorist attack from the angle of management theory and organisational
effectiveness. Surely in a democracy it is appropriate to look at world events
from every possible angle provided you do nothing to diminish or trivialise the
experience of the victims.
A further objection is that it was inappropriate to use a provocative
headline and a picture of Bin Laden to promote the article on the front page.
Our purpose was clearly to draw attention to the article and it achieved that
aim. As we fully support the article, we make no apology for making sure it got