Where is Al Dunlap?

Does anyone remember Al Dunlap?

I would be lying if I said that I investigated him on my own by watching the news while I was in college.  Truth be told, he was shown to me by Charles Elson, at the University of Delaware through two books.  One, written by Dunlap himself, was entitled, Mean Business.  The other, written by John Byrne, Chainsaw.

Let me be the opposite of George Will here, and get to the point right now.  Al Dunlap is everywhere, and still a part of an ethos that has a hold in...how do I word this...a sizable amount of young Republicans.

For those not in the know, Al Dunlap became famous for saving bad companies and making good companies great - as he put it.  Well, it was slightly more complicated than that.  Truth be told, his equations for success were simple.  Dunlap would come into a company with a few of his trusted cohorts, cut jobs to the point where the business would be profitable for a year or two, and then sell the company to someone else and let them deal with what is left of the firm.

How does this apply to our current economic situation?  Well, with all the job cutting going on, this does not mean that production is falling by the same amount of jobs.  When a nice round number is given for a firm to cut jobs this shows that they probably haven't thought so much about who is going to pick up the slack.  Rather, they simply figure that "someone will pick up the slack."

In the rush to maintain shareholder equity, the hope is that your firm has a CEO who is thinking about their decisions now, and how they impact the firm later. 

What's going to happen though when we get out of this current economic scenario?  Al Dunlap had a very fickle habit of taking credit for things that were not necessarily in his locus of control.  Famously, he would take credit for the new products a company would make.  In reality, he would clamp down on R&D as soon as he got to a firm, taking credit for new products that were already in the pipeline before he got there.

When this economy comes back, it will come back quite strongly.  The proper credit for any firm's future success will most likely be muddled and nebulous.  So, while I am worried about finding a new job now, I also have to fear those whom we may lionize when we get out of this.


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