I, Tomato: Morning Star’s Radical Approach to Management

The Morning Star Company, which handles 40 percent of California’s processed tomato crop, is the largest tomato processing company in the world. That’s impre…
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25 Responses to “I, Tomato: Morning Star’s Radical Approach to Management”

  1. Because people are afraid to try new things. they always want to follow tradition. I love working for morningstar is by far the best job i ever had

  2. How is the background music/song called? Where could I find it?

  3. BeardedDudeFromSpace Reply July 20, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    No micro-management, sign me up!

  4. I don’t understand how this point is an argument in favor of Self-Management. If anything, it’s an argument in favor of the idea that technology might one day render firms of all kinds obsolete, regardless of which management systems they use. Care to clarify?

  5. Impossible, as you say, for transaction costs to decline to zero–but transaction costs aren’t zero in a traditional firm, either, are they?

  6. That is, I agree that if Self Management can’t beat traditional management the market will select against it.

  7. I agree with that wholeheartedly.

  8. If all transaction costs declined to near zero (fundamentally impossible unless humans are taken out of the picture entirely), then there would be no reason to have a firm at all and this whole idea of Self-Management would be useless. And internal price systems have other problems than just transaction costs—their disconnection from the wealth of information stored in external market price systems, for instance. Self-Management doesn’t entail internal prices anyway, so what’s the point?

  9. If employees were born into firms and never made a conscious decision to work there, you might have a point. I don’t think that’s the case, but I see from the article that your father also works for MorningStar, so maybe there’s some sort of inter-generational serfdom taking place there. It’s fine if people want to work in this system, but the market will select against it if it can’t beat normal management systems in ROI in a broad range of circumstances (and it wouldn’t if Coase is correct).

  10. I’ve thought a lot about that, RelaxedAnarchist, and I think the answer, to some large degree, has something to do with trying to convince the princes to lay down their crowns. When you have unilateral control, and everyone in the enterprise is your “subject”, it’s hard to build up the courage required to give those subjects true freedom.

  11. We have quite a few more than 50 employees–but I completely understand the skepticism. Many people have a hard time imagining things that they’ve never seen before; no issue with that.

    I will say, though, that the principles we’ve tried to build the organization on are the same principles of free society that we’ve seen work in very large societies, so I think it can work where all 7 billion humans are involved.

  12. On another note: You’re right–this is a key feature that Coase referred to in his definition of the firm, but using it as a timeless definition for the firm might not be entirely accurate. Historically, people coming together and taking orders/minimizing transaction costs associated w/price systems/trade brought some measure of perceived efficiency. But I think technology makes an internal pricing system far more realistic–in fact, real. So maybe “firm” needs a new definition?

  13. Based on your incredibly narrow perspective, as long as you have the right/ability to leave the U.S. without consequence other than loss of rights of citizenship, then the government has the right to do anything they want to you–the contract is voluntary, not coerced.

    Technically, you might be right–but it doesn’t matter if you’re “technically” right; what we are talking about is creating the environment where people want to live and flourish. Your technicalities are worthless…

  14. I meant general real world, where all 7 billion humans are involved, not just 50 employees

  15. What an asinine statement; it does work, very well in fact.

  16. I find it odd that so many find it hard to believe that one could manage his own work.just because a worker has no boss there is still accountability. Just like in your personal life where you have no central authority running your home and life but somehow, you get things done and pay your bills. Not because someone forced you to do so, but because it was in your best interest! I don’t get how so many think something can’t be done unless some little dictator is controlling things.

  17. Yes, it’s coming up now. Thanks!

  18. Self-Management Institute Reply July 21, 2013 at 1:26 am

    Scrappmutt2, are you still having problems accessing the site? As far as I can tell, it’s running fine…

  19. Self-Management Institute Reply July 21, 2013 at 2:00 am

    Thank you, xevnoc!

  20. Personal liberty requires personal accountability. Progressive liberalism is zero personal liberty with zero personal accountability where you are free to vote for yourself the fruits of the labors of others.

  21. my guess, fat agro subsides paid by the californian tax payer

  22. my guess, fat agro subsides pais

  23. This is a really interesting story/report.

  24. RelaxedAnarchist Reply July 21, 2013 at 4:37 am

    So this company has been successful for 40 years. The one question I have is if this is an effective model for numerous industries, why has it not been more broadly adopted?

  25. yea a lot is missing