Freakonomics Summary

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A Book Review of Freakonomics and Application to Project Management
November 2010

Project Management

Summary The idea to write Freakonomics began in 2003 when journalist and award winning author Stephen Dubner wrote a profile of economist Steven Levitt for the New York Times Magazine. At the time, Levitt, an Economics professor at the University of Chicago, was focusing his research efforts on answering unique and sometimes controversial questions concerning topics such as crime, corruption, education, and parenting using economic analysis. The two immediately hit it off and decided to collaborate to write a book detailing Levitt’s most interesting research. In 2005 their book, Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the
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Using this type of thinking, one can discover that the answers to life’s most interesting questions are not impenetrable; it just takes someone asking the right questions to discover the underlying answers.

Application to Project Management As discussed in Freakonomics, moral, financial, and social incentives influence how people behave in various situations. Certainly, the members of the project team and the stakeholders involved in a project are each motivated by incentives. These incentives may be in support of the project or against it, which is why it’s critically important for the project manager to recognize these incentives when he/she is developing a stakeholder register and performing a thorough stakeholder analysis. For example, if a publically funded project was being undertaken to construct a new elementary school, some taxpayers may have a financial incentive to oppose the project because they don’t want to see a tax hike, but teachers and school administrators may have a moral incentive to support the project because they feel that a new building would be in the best interest of the students. Whether stakeholders are in support of the project or against it, the project manager must communicate and manage all stakeholder expectations. Otherwise, the project may be negatively
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