Attribute. It’s Not Hard.

There seems to be some sort of attribution problem in the culture today. A Harvard student just had her first book yanked by her embarassed publisher. And Raytheon CEO William Swanson just stopped distributing his popular booklet Swanson’s Unwritten Rules of Management, after accusations of word for word lifting from an earlier text..
The booklet has attained cult-like status among business leaders, with more than 300,000 free copies shipped over the years by Raytheon.
According to USA TODAY, about half of Swanson’s rules can be found word for word or nearly so in the 1944 book The Unwritten Laws of Engineering, by W.J. (William Julian) King, a one-time General Electric engineer who retired as a UCLA engineering professor in 1969.
Speaking of attribution, check out how this person credits us for what we do here.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Carl LaFong says:

    OK, I know this is an iditotic question, but curiosity compells me to ask: How can rules or laws be “unwritten” if they appear in a book or leaflet? Doesn’t that go against every known law of man and nature? Man, this is just too heavy. . .
    And what’s the deal with I feel like there’s a joke somewhere that I’m missing.

  2. daPulp I don’t get.
    Shawn tried to explain to me why someone would take the time to do this, but it’s still confusing to me.
    I would understand if the content over there was monetized in some way, but it does not seem to be at this juncture.

  3. Ray the Awn says:

    I think it is important that this is a book on professional ethics. Swanson used it to promote ethical behavior in the company, and to convince companies that Raytheon worked with that they were an ethical company. Now they know how the company really feels about their intellctual property. “Oh, that was your idea/trade secret? Sorry, I forgot to write that down.”
    This is a ton more serious than plagiarizing some teen fiction.