AMA Dictionary of Business & Management by George Kurian

Lucia A. Worthington

The American Management Association (AMA) “Dictionary of Business and Management” by George Kurian is a traditional hardcover dictionary sectioned into predictable alphabetized terms and concepts. It is a no frills tool that can easily be substituted via computer Internet searches, smartphone or tablet gadgets. Yet, its traditional stodginess deserves a place as a reference tool on the executive desk or bookshelf. Why? Because it lays the foundation to scan what we know or don’t know in a concise manner and to then move on to more in-depth investigation if the concise explanation requires more detailed depth and breadth.

The opening sentence above uses two key terms efficiency and effectiveness. They are frequently misused or used interchangeably. Senior executives, members of congress, and media gurus all too often use these two major business concepts incorrectly, and by doing so, signal their ignorance.

Efficiency and effectiveness are the foundational words for productivity and reaching determined results in business, not-for-profit organizations or public organizations at all layers of government. To make a judgment call on which of the two is more important requires an understanding of each concept and only then, when we fully understand the meaning, can we engage in critical thinking and have an opinion.

The other two words in the beginning sentence, reengineering and restructuring are also frequently confused. Yet both concepts are hugely different in their meaning. Their misuse also signals an amateur and sloppiness similar to finding hair in the soup.

To build one’s personal power is a gradual process and goes beyond the outward appearance of silk shirts and stylish haircuts. What we say – with precision – reflects our competence and increases our influence. Knowledge gives us judgment power to determine the competence of others.

Dictionaries in hardcover or on our electronic devices should go beyond spell checking. Dictionaries can be used as study points to make us smarter. Knowing that efficiencies reduce waste and effectiveness is reaching our determined goals gives us decision-making power and the ability to correctly choose those who know the difference.

Lucia Worthington is a dictionary pack rat and is known to read dictionaries just because they are there. She teaches business management at Clark College and strategic entrepreneurship at Portland State University. To recommend a book for review, email

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