News at Smith

9th Annual Top-10 Summer Reading List for Business Leaders

Jun 15, 2012


The University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business is excited to announce some favorite books in the "Ninth Annual Top 10 Summer Reading List for Business Leaders" for 2012, as recommended by members of its faculty and staff.

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World
By Michael Lewis

“This is a well-written, easy-to-read book about the European debt crisis,” says Smith School Dean G. “Anand” Anandalingam. “Michael Lewis gives the reader a guided tour through some of the disparate places hardest hit by the fiscal crisis, such as Greece, Iceland and Ireland; tracing how very different people for very different reasons gorged on the cheap credit available in the prelude to the disaster.”

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business
By Patrick Lencioni

“Patrick Lencioni has done it again! While most people expect to read a fable from him, this book is instead a practical, comprehensive guide,” says Vice Dean Joyce E.A. Russell. “His view is that the primary difference between successful and unsuccessful companies is based on how healthy they are. He defines organizational health in terms of four disciplines: building a cohesive leadership team, creating clarity, over communicating clarity, and reinforcing clarity. Through numerous examples and cases, he offers real-world suggestions for how firms can seize an advantage by becoming healthier firms. A must-read for leaders of any type of firm!”

Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All
By Morten Hansen and Jim Collins

Good to Great author Jim Collins asks in this new book: Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not? “The authors examine leaders who have succeeded in uncertain times and found they share three traits: No. 1 - Productive Paranoia, No. 2- Fanatic Discipline, and No. 3- Empirical Creativity,” says Ken White, assistant dean of marketing communications.

The Start-up of You
By Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

In this book, Reid Hoffman – entrepreneur and cofounder of LinkedIn – and Ben Casnocha provide a roadmap to accelerate your career in today’s highly competitive global environment. “They argue that you should manage your career as if it were a start-up business,” says Mark Wellman, Tyser Teaching Fellow in the management and organization department. “The Start-Up of You empowers people to take control of their future and provides a blueprint for people to accomplish their professional objectives. The book is particularly useful for college students as it offers advice on how to ‘Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career.’”

Enough. True Measures of Money, Business, and Life
By John C. Bogle

Throughout his career, John C. Bogle – founder of the Vanguard Mutual Fund Group and creator of the first index mutual fund – has helped investors build wealth. In Enough, he addresses how an obsession with financial success can be destructive. “This book is not an investments book, but rather extends far beyond mutual funds,” says John A. Haslem, professor emeritus of finance. “Vanguard’s founder states: ‘Not knowing what is ‘enough’ also undermines our business and professional values, and often leads us astray.’”

The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World
By Michael Spence

Michael Spence, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, explains what happened to cause a dramatic shift in the prospects of the five billion people who live in developing countries. “This is a very insightful and wide-ranging analysis of today's and tomorrow's global economy,” says Curt Grimm, Dean's Professor of Supply Chain and Strategy. “Spence argues that economic growth is paramount and weaves together the determinants and prospects for growth in both developed and developing countries.”

American Gridlock: Why the Right and Left Are Both Wrong – Commonsense 101 Solutions to the Economic Crises
By H. Woody Brock

“In American Gridlock, Brock demonstrates how deductive logic (as opposed to ideologically driven data analysis) can transform the way we think about economic problems and lead us to new and different solutions that cross the ideological divide,” says William Longbrake, executive in residence at the Smith School’s Center for Financial Policy. “Drawing on both economic and game theories and the economics of uncertainty and using rigorous deductive logic, Brock proposes solutions to vexing economic challenges such as deficit reduction and sustainable economic growth. Brock demonstrates that the choice confronting policymakers is not between free market capitalism and a government-driven economy. Rather, the solutions to America's problems will require enactment of constructive policies that allow ‘true capitalism’ to flourish even as they incorporate social policies that help those who truly need it.”

The Coming Prosperity: How Entrepreneurs Are Transforming the Global Economy
By Philip Auerswald

“The Coming Prosperity is an historical journey of the role entrepreneurs have played in creating new forms of economic activity,” says Melissa Carrier, executive director of the Smith School’s Center for Social Value Creation. “In doing so, Auerswald provides colorful entrepreneurial narratives to describe how entrepreneurship drives societal change and is the process by which we can achieve prosperity in the 21st century. One recommendation – the ability for government, business, and civil society to work together to catalyze, test and sustain new innovations – is critical. His conclusion is that we are all a part of the traffic; therefore, we are all a part of connecting problems to solutions. I certainly enjoyed reading this book, and you will too!”

Finance and the Good Society
By Robert J. Shiller

“Robert J. Shiller was one of the very few to predict the stock market bubble of 2000 (Irrational Exuberance) and the subsequent real estate bubble of 2007 that led to the subprime mortgage meltdown and the financial crisis,” says David Kass, Tyser Teaching Fellow in the finance department. “As a result of the Great Recession (2007 - 2009) and the subsequent anemic recovery, financial innovation has been criticized by many. In this book, the author takes a very positive and constructive approach to suggesting how future financial innovation can be harnessed for the good of society, in general, and to benefit almost everyone (“democratization of finance”). He recommends that finance be reinvented in a way that it would help society achieve its goals and increase society’s assets. He describes how finance has historically contributed to the good of society through inventions such as insurance, mortgages, savings accounts, and pensions; but a more creative approach should be implemented in the future so beneficiaries would be more inclusive. Shiller recommends designing new financial inventions that incorporate the latest financial theory as well as research being performed in behavioral economics and behavioral finance.”

Digital Intelligence: What Every Smart Manager Must Have for Success in an Information Age
By Sunil Mithas

This book is written by Sunil Mithas, associate professor and associate chair of the department of decision, operations and information technologies at the Smith School. The book espouses the belief that digital intelligence is an important competence that global leaders need to have in today’s economy to become more productive and informed members of the society and to enhance the performance of their organizations. Zhi-Long Chen, professor of operations management and chair of the department of decision, operations and information technologies, says, “This is a great book for general managers and students who want to improve their digital intelligence or digital IQ.”


The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
By Eric Ries

“Startups are entrepreneurial organizations dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty,” says William Longbrake, executive in residence at the Smith School’s Center for Financial Policy. “This book argues that traditional management tools are frequently inadequate to ensure success of such organizations. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, the lean startup approach relies on ‘validated learning,’ rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want as opposed to what managers think they want. Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, the lean startup methodology provides a way to test an entrepreneur's vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it's too late.”

The Cloud Sketcher
By Richard Raynor

“This book of fiction intrigued me because of the rich way Raynor writes about a singular passion – in this case an 11-year-old Finnish boy's learning of a new invention called an ‘elevator’ – and how it shaped him to become an architect who landed in New York City, fulfilling a dream of building a sky-scraper, which the Finn's call ‘cloud sketchers,’” says Greg Hanifee, assistant dean for executive programs. “The story spans 30 years and uncovers a part of the world and a history I knew nothing about – the Finnish civil war – and Raynor paints a brilliant story about the ups and downs of a singular vision.”

All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results
By Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

“Another winner by the authors of bestsellers The Carrot Principle and The Orange Revolution – two of my favorite books for leaders,” says Vice Dean Joyce E.A. Russell. “Building on their previous work regarding the importance of measuring and building ENGAGEMENT in the workplace, they talk about the importance of also creating environments where employees feel ENABLED to do their jobs, and feel ENERGIZED. Thus, they show that when employees are engaged + feel enabled + feel energized, the performance of the firm is significantly higher. They give very practical tips, and I love their 52 ways (tips) to get employees ‘all in.’ These are really great suggestions that could make a big difference if leaders followed them.”

The Search for Survival: Lessons from Disruptive Technologies
By Henry Lucas

The Search for Survival: Lessons from Disruptive Technologies is written by Henry C. Lucas, professor of information systems at the Smith School. The book examines organizations that failed to develop a strategy for coping with a technological disruption and have suffered greatly or even gone out of business. Zhi-Long Chen, professor of operations management and chair of the department of decision, operations and information technologies, says, “This is a great book for managers of any company trying to survive disruptive technologies.”

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business 

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty masters, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.