Washington Signature
[ Search and Navigation ]   [ View Full Site ]

Business Management

Good Reads

“A good book is a machine to think with.”

That’s what a wise teacher once said to one of us. The information, ideas, and arguments in books are great, but even more powerful is the new thinking you do when you read—especially when you read a good book.

Agree or disagree with what the author says—actually, especially if you disagree—working through a writer’s argument is a great way to sharpen your own arguments and ideas, and your abilty to express them to others.

Here are a few of our favorite books for business students of all ages. They’ll surprise and entertain and at times trouble you—but they will make you think. Guaranteed.


Accounting and Finance

  • Beasley et al., Fraudulent Financial Reporting, 1998-2007


    imageMark Beasley et al., “Fraudulent Financial Reporting 1998-2007: An Analysis of U.S. Public Companies.” The study, commissioned by leading American accounting organizations, including the American Accounting Association, documents more than 300 cases of accounting fraud in American business during a decade that saw many high-profile instances of malfeasance, with a total misappropriation of more than $100 billion.

    Senior leaders, according to the study, play a critical role in enabling fraud: 89% of CEOs and/or CFOs were named by the SEC in fraud cases it investigated.

    The study concludes that the  long-term impact of accounting and reporting fraud was strongly negative, with companies committing fraud facing higher-than-average risks of bankruptcy, delisting, or asset sales.

  • Belsky and Gilovich, Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes

    imageGary 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.

  • Graham, The Intelligent Investor

    imageBenjamin 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.

  • Morgenson and Rosner, Reckless Endangerment

    Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner, Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon (Times Books/Henry Holt, 2011).

    imageA searing exposé of the financial collapse in America in the 2000s, a collapse that has had far-reaching consequences and has been likened to a second Great Depression.

    Pulitzer-Prize-winning journal Morgenson and her co-author trace the roots of the collapse to an unhealthy, uncontrolled partnership between private-sector banks, mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and politicians going back to the 1990s. They paint a vivid story of how Fannie and Freddie, eager to guard their privileged position of being backed by the government, aggressively resisted Congressional oversight while showering money on politicians to win favorable treatment.

    The authors reveal the workings of the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street, and note that in the years since the collapse, no individual has been held accountable for the ruin and suffering. It’s a powerful, astonishing story of immensely powerful individuals using their connections and positions to enrich themselves, while shielding themselves from the consequences of their mistakes.

  • Turner, Economics After the Crisis

    imageAdair 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.


Entrepreneurship

  • Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin

    imageWalter 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.

  • Schussler, It’s a Jungle in There

    Steven Schussler, It’s a Jungle in There: Inspiring Lessons, Hard-Won Insights, and Other Acts of Entrepreneurial Daring (Union Square Press, 2010). 

    imageSchussler, the founder of Rainforest Café, offers an entertaining, winning guide to his own experiences as an entrepreneur on a shoestring. As a young man building his business, Schussler was never afraid to take a chance, even if it might mean making a fool of himself.

     


Global Business, Culture, and Strategy

  • Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

    imageAmy Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (Penguin, 2011).

    Best-selling Yale Law professor Chua (World on Fire and Day of Empire) explores a more personal topic, how she applied Chinese parenting values to raising two daughters in the United States. Pushing her daughters to a degree few native-born American parents do, she tells a story of both success and resistance.

    The family story Chua tells is fascinating, but the book’s deeper value lies in how it helps Americans better understand Chinese culture and values. Chinese parents, Chua argues, look at their role quite differently than their American counterparts: “Western parents are concerned about their children’s psyches. Chinese parents aren’t. They assume strength, not fragility.”

  • D’Aveni, Strategic Capitalism

    imageRichard 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.

  • Kinzer, Crescent and Star

    imageStephen Kinzer, Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008).

    Kinzer, former New York Times Istanbul bureau chief, presents a concise history of modern Turkey without hiding his passion and love for the country. Turkey, situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, sits symbolically between two worlds–a modern, westernized world of markets and democracy, and a traditional world of faith and authoritarianism.

    Kinzer vividly relates Turkey history, from Kemal Ataterk to contemporary challenges including militarism, women’s rights, Islamic fundamentalism, and the ongoing challenge of the place of the Kurdish minority in Turkey.

  • Senor and Singer, Startup Nation

    imageDan 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.

  • Turner, Economics After the Crisis

    imageAdair 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.


Information Systems and Analytics

  • Franks, Taming the Big Data Tidal Wave

    imageBill 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.


Leadership, Management, and Ethics

  • Breeden, Tipping Sacred Cows

    imageJake 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.

  • Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

    Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Broadway, 2013).

    In this celebrated best-seller, Cain takes a look at the undervalued introvert, and what value ‘quiet’ individuals provide to organizations. “Quiet,” according to a review in Fortune, should interest anyone who cares about how people think, work, and get along, or wonders why the guy in the next cubicle acts that way. It should be required reading for introverts (or their parents) who could use a boost to their self-esteem.”

  • Cronin and Genovese, Leadership Matters

    imageTom 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.

  • Isaacson, Steve Jobs

    imageWalter Isaacson, Steve Jobs (Simon and Schuster, 2011).

    Isaacson (best-selling author of biographies of Henry Kissinger, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein), in his exhaustively researched biography, paints a vivid picture of the complex, difficult genius who co-founded Apple and revolutionized how the world uses computers, listens to music, and more.

  • Morris, If Aristotle Ran General Motors

    imageTom 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.”

  • Schussler, It’s a Jungle in There

    Steven Schussler, It’s a Jungle in There: Inspiring Lessons, Hard-Won Insights, and Other Acts of Entrepreneurial Daring (Union Square Press, 2010). 

    imageSchussler, the founder of Rainforest Café, offers an entertaining, winning guide to his own experiences as an entrepreneur on a shoestring. As a young man building his business, Schussler was never afraid to take a chance, even if it might mean making a fool of himself.

     


Marketing

  • Kerpen, Likeable Social Media

    image 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.

     

  • Pine and Gilmore, The Experience Economy

    image

    B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage (Harvard Business School Press, 1999).

    Terry Scout: Pine and Gilmore’s main point in this classic book is that people want experiences rather than goods and services.  Companies excel by providing compelling experiences for customers.  Apple Stores with the genius bar are an experience.  (They really are. I love to go to an Apple Store.) 

    Required for BUS 202 Marketing, 2013-14.

  • Schussler, It’s a Jungle in There

    Steven Schussler, It’s a Jungle in There: Inspiring Lessons, Hard-Won Insights, and Other Acts of Entrepreneurial Daring (Union Square Press, 2010). 

    imageSchussler, the founder of Rainforest Café, offers an entertaining, winning guide to his own experiences as an entrepreneur on a shoestring. As a young man building his business, Schussler was never afraid to take a chance, even if it might mean making a fool of himself.