Karaoke Capitalism: Management for Mankind

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 1 October 2004



(2004), "Karaoke Capitalism: Management for Mankind", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 53 No. 7. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijppm.2004.07953gae.003



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Karaoke Capitalism: Management for Mankind

Karaoke Capitalism: Management for Mankind

Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell NordstromPrentice-HallISBN: 0273687476£18.99

This is the long-awaited follow up to Ridderstrale and Nordstrom’s internationally acclaimed Funky Business and it is just as thought-provoking. It starts from what we all know to be true – that in the modern, global economy there is vast, confusing choice. Ironically, this choice can lead to permanent dissatisfaction with decisions taken (perhaps I made the wrong choice), and then also to loneliness, stress and even misplaced and unrealistic ambition.

The “karaoke” in the title suggests that we feel that we are creating “music” for ourselves, that choice is liberating and that companies are pressured by we consumers exercising our choices. They, in turn, copy each other, eager to offer the choice “demanded” by consumers but rarely providing true innovation.

The authors, understandably, suggest that true, longer-term commercial success comes from “writing new songs”, not endlessly replaying those of the past. They further suggest that this is becoming more and more essential since we consumers no longer pay allegiance to a brand, no longer accept standardisation. We demand, expect – and we get – choice.

Companies that do not recognise this consumer power will not survive.

But hold on … where does the power lie, nowadays? If you consider that Tesco now accounts for £1 in every £8 spent in the UK, it seems to lie with the same small number of capitalists as before. They give us choice, but they limit our freedom! This doesn’t negate the arguments in this book, but it does suggest that this book should be read with a dose of “reality check”.

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