Plano Reads: When McKinsey Comes to Town
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Plano Reads: When McKinsey Comes to Town

For the May Brown Bag Book Club, we’re reading When McKinsey Comes to Town: The Hidden Influence of the World’s Most Powerful Consulting Firm by Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe. Join us at Parr Library on Thursday, May 23 at 12pm to discuss this book.

When McKinsey Comes to Town: The Hidden Influence of the World’s Most Powerful Consulting Firm by Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe

Available as Print | eBook | eAudiobook

McKinsey & Company is the most prestigious consulting company in the world, earning billions of dollars in fees from major corporations and governments who turn to it to maximize their profits and enhance efficiency. In When McKinsey Comes to Town, two prizewinning investigative journalists have written a portrait of the company sharply at odds with its public image. Often McKinsey’s advice boils down to major cost-cutting, including layoffs and maintenance reductions, to drive up short-term profits, thereby boosting a company’s stock price and the wealth of its executives who hire it, at the expense of workers and safety measures. McKinsey collects millions of dollars advising government agencies that also regulate McKinsey’s corporate clients. And the firm frequently advises competitors in the same industries, but denies that this presents any conflict of interest.  Bogdanich and Forsythe have penetrated the veil of secrecy surrounding McKinsey by conducting hundreds of interviews, obtaining tens of thousands of revelatory documents, and following the #1 rule of investigative reporting: follow the money.

In outstanding research reported through the lens of individual stories, Bogdanich and Forsythe recount the myriad problems that undermine the company’s claims to be guided by ethics and values, including their dubious client selections, blatant conflicts of interests, hypocrisy, secrecy, revolving door relationships, suppressed dissent, and relentless focus on profit, often confusing cost-cutting with efficiency. Grounding abundant, revealing information in a critical yet restrained and balanced journalistic account of the company’s business, the authors leave theoretical analysis largely implicit. This highly readable narrative should alert general readers and undergraduates to be skeptical of McKinsey’s philosophy that the private sector can solve public problems, perhaps spurring searches for competing explanations and alternatives. Summing Up: Essential. –Choice Reviews, Sept. 2023

Recipients of multiple prestigious prizes for their far-reaching investigative journalism, Bogdanich and Forsythe pull back the curtain on the unseen depths of McKinsey’s pernicious and insidious influence. Thanks to their unprecedented level of access to crucial records and key insider accounts, this monumental corporate exposé will do for management consulting what Patrick Radden Keefe’s Empire of Pain (2021) did for the opioid epidemic and the Sacklers. -© 2022 Booklist Reviews.

WALT BOGDANICH is an investigative reporter for The New York Times. He has been awarded three Pulitzer Prizes for his investigative journalism. He previously produced stories for 60 Minutes, ABC News and The Wall Street Journal in New York and Washington. He has a B.A. in political science from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in journalism from Ohio State University. He lives in Port Washington, NY.

MICHAEL FORSYTHE is an investigative reporter for The New York Times. At Bloomberg, Forsythe was part of a team that won the George Polk Award in 2013. Forsythe is a veteran of the U.S. Navy. He has a B.A. in international economics from Georgetown University and a Master’s degree in East Asian Studies from Harvard University. He lives in New York City.

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