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After completing his doctoral studies in social relations at Harvard in 1960, Michael Maccoby drove a rusty Ford to Cuernavaca, Mexico, to help the psychoanalyst and philosopher Erich Fromm conduct research on the motivations of people in farming villages. They worked together for eight years and produced a book, Social Character in a Mexican Village.

It could have been the prelude to an academic career. Instead, Dr. Maccoby pursued his field work in factories and corporate suites, applying what he had learned from psychology, sociology and anthropology to management consulting and books for general readers, including Strategic Intelligence and The Productive Narcissist. He advised companies and government agencies on leadership and motivation of employees.