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Department of

Business Management

Life with meaning.

Prof. Susan Vowels, Dept. ChairProf. Susan Vowels, Dept. Chair

That’s the literal translation of 生意 (sheng-yi), the Chinese word for business.

And that’s our approach to teaching business management as a liberal art.

We engage students. You’ll share ideas with classmates, work closely with expert faculty, and get your hands on real-world tools like SAP (all our majors learn how to use it). You can invest a half million dollars in socially responsible businesses in the Brown Advisory Student-Managed Investment Fund. And you can learn how to build your own business from the ground up. 

It’s your dream, and we want you to dream big. We’re here to help you make it real, and create your very own sheng-yi, life with meaning.

Our grads Global business BUS classroom, Spring 2011 In the classroom

Student quick links

Quick links for students



What we're reading

  • Jake Breeden, Tipping Sacred Cows: Kick the Bad Work Habits that Masquerade as Virtues (Jossey-Bass, 2013).

    Leaders pride themselves on traits such as creativity, passion, and fairness. But unquestioned virtues can curdle into vices when pursued relentlessly or in the wrong contexts.  The author, a Duke University faculty member, takes a hard look at seven ‘sacred cows’ dear to many leaders, showing how overzealous allegiance to them can harm their organizations.

  • Dan Senor and Saul Singer, Startup Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle (12, 2009).

    Israel, a nation of just 7 million people, has more startup companies than China, India, or Japan, and is a global magnet for venture capital investment, with more than twice as much venture capital per person than the United States, and 30 times more than Europe.

    Senor and Singer explore the intellectual traditions, government policies, and people behind Israel’s remarkable economic success. Entrepreneurialism, the authors suggest, is far more than a policy or a mindset–it is a culture, as well.

  • Gary Belsky and Thomas Gilovich, Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes And How To Correct Them: Lessons From The New Science Of Behavioral Economics (Simon & Schuster, rev. ed. 2010).

    In this entertaining and readable book, Belsky and Gilovich explore how people think about money and financial decisions, and why we sometimes make mistakes. Drawing on the rapidly advancing field of behavioral economics, they explore mistakes like the sunk cost fallacy, the tendency to throw good money after bad.

    No matter how ‘smart’ you are, Belsky and Gilovich will help you avoid making irrational financial decisions.

  • Richard D’Aveni, Strategic Capitalism: The New Economic Strategy for Winning the Capitalist Cold War (McGraw Hill, 2012).

    Western economists and policymakers have long favored a laissez-faire approach to capitalism and the market.

    But D’Aveni, a strategy professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck Business School, argues that in today’s global economy this traditional hands-off view is failing. Unless Western governments accept a more active role, D’Aveni says, they will continue to lose out to the Chinese model.

  • Carroll Quigley, The Evolution of Civilizations (first published 1961).

    In this far-ranging historical analyis, Quigley traces the seven-part life-cycle of great civilizations. Prof. Jim Flanagan, who teaches global business, still remembers reading the book as part of Quigley’s “mind-blowing” course at Georgetown University his very first year in college. Quigley, Prof. Flanagan says, still has a lot to teach students today, more than a half-century since the book’s original publication, about history, civilizations, and economics.

  • Walter Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (Simon & Schuster, 2004).

    Inventor, diplomat, statesman, scientist, Founding Father–and entrepreneur. Benjamin Franklin helped invent the quintessentially American notion of the entrepreneur, the enterprising individual who recognizes opportunities, takes risks, and earns great success.

    Isaacson traces Franklin’s story from his start as a printer’s apprentice to his success as a publisher and journalist, to his even greater public career in diplomacy and the American founding. He shows that while Franklin may have ended up a distinguished statesman and beloved figure, he kept to the end his entrepreneurial interest in new ideas, new opportunities, and new enterprises.

  • Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy (Digital Frontier Press, 2012) 

    Brynjolffson and McAfee, professors at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, argue that the pace of technological innovation is increasing, and explore the challenges this poses to the future of jobs and the economy. 

  • Tom Cronin and Michael Genovese, Leadership Matters (Paradigm, 2012). 

    In their new book, political scientists Cronin and Genovese explore the paradoxes of leadership by looking at literature, movies, art, and classic texts. A wide-ranging, head-expanding read.

  • Thomas Stanley and William Danko, The Millionaire Next Door (first published in 1996).

    Professor Terry Scout recommends this book as one of the best life lessons young people should absorb: become wealthy by the choices you make, including living frugally and avoiding debt. He says the book calls to mind the immortal advice from Charles Dickens’ character Mr. Micawber (from David Copperfield): “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

     Based on extensive interviews, Stanley and Danko conclude that wealth in America is usually “the result of hard work, diligent savings, and living below your means.” It’s an old lesson, well understood by many successful people—and it will be the foundation for many future millionaires, too.

  • Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor (1949; revised in 2003 with commentary by Jason Zweig).

    How can you make money in the stock market? In this classic book Benjamin Graham lays out his key idea: “value investing.” Warren Buffett, America’s most famous and revered billionaire investor, was inspired by Graham’s ideas, and called The Intelligent Investor “by far the best book on investing ever written.”

    By focusing on fundamentals and resisting the urge to buy and sell at every market fluctuation, Graham argues, the intelligent investor can minimize risk and maximize long-term gain.

    It worked for Warren Buffett and countless other investors in the six decades since Graham’s book first came out. It probably stil has some wisdom left for you.

  • Bill Franks, Taming the Big Data Tidal Wave (Wiley, 2012).

    Franks, Chief Analytics Officer for software firm Teradata, explains what the rise of big data means to business and other organizations today.

    Big data is washing over our world, from gigabyte to terabyte to petabyte. Franks surveys technologies for managing it, explains how to analyze and make sense of it, and suggests how to create an organizational culture of discovery and innovation that takes advantage of the possibilities unleashed by the waves of data that are transforming the competitive environment of business.

  • Sutton and Rao, Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less (Crown Business, 2014).

    Stanford professors Sutton and Rao explore how organizations can take good ideas practices—“pockets of exemplary performance”—and ‘scale’ them: expand their reach across the entire organization. Based on extensive research from many different industries, Sutton and Rao present a concise, clear framework for “spreading excellence” within a company.

  • Dave Kerpen, Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (And Other Social Networks) (McGraw-Hill, 2011).

    “A friend’s recommendation,” Kerpen says, “is more powerful than any advertisement.”

    Social media are transforming how businesses communicate and connect with customers, and how people learn about products and services.

    Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social media sites have brought in a new era of informal, rapid-fire interaction–and they’ve also brought waves of new data that companies can analyze to learn more abou their customers’ likes and dislikes.

    In this best-selling book, Kerpen, co-founder and CEO of Likeable Media, provides a fast-paced, easy-to-follow guide to the remarkable world of social media marketing.


  • Adair Turner, Economics After the Crisis (MIT Press, 2012).

    The financial crisis of 2008 continues to roil the global economy. Turner, Britain’s chief financial regulator, argues that what is needed to restore sustained growth is a rethinking of the basic premises of economics and financial regulation.

    For the last generation, Turner says, economic policymaking has been driven by the so-called Washington Consensus: that markets are efficient, that economic actors are rational in pursuit of their own self-interest, and that inequality is an inescapable consequence of the necessary pursuit of economic growth.

    These simplifying assumptions certainly make for elegant mathematical models. But Turner argues that they simply don’t do a good job mapping the real world.

    What are the consequences when the assumptions and the real world diverge?  And what should we do now to rebuild the global economy? Turner’s book will inspire hard thinking about these big questions.

  • Tom Morris, If Aristotle Ran General Motors (Holt, 1997).

    In this book about philosophy and business, Morris argues that ancient philosophy has a lot to teach us about modern life and work. 

    “If we let the great philosophers guide our thinking,” Morris says, “… we put ourselves in the very best position to move towards genuine excellence, true prosperity, and deeply satisfying success in our businesses, our families, and our lives.”

[Click here for more good reads.]

Recent Stories

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    During a summer internship with Rondar Raceboats, varsity sailor and business major Mason Sheen ’17 helped secure a major sales contract with the Gulf Yachting Association for a high-performance boat selected for its prestigious interclub Capdevielle Series.

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    As a part of Path to Passion, Alumni Relations hosted an Alumni Entrepreneurship Panel on October 20 in the Center for Career Development.
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    The well known champion of financial reform, twice named the second most powerful woman in the world, will be the College’s first female president. She starts her new job August 1.

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