The annual Top 10 Summer Reading List for Business Leaders – as recommended by Robert H. Smith School of Business faculty and staff - is several and months and a change-of-season away.
Perhaps something to whet reader appetites for the 2012 summer list, a few Smith leaders reflected on books they have recently read and recommend for winter reading.
The following selections cover "behavioral" economics and finance, “dark” secrets of the Internet, the revolutionary effect of the shipping container, social media as a driver of social change, and more.
Hugh Courtney, vice dean and professor of the practice of strategy
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (2011, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Courtney: Kahneman received the Nobel Prize in economics for his work in psychology that challenged the rational model of judgment and decision-making. His academic research has had a profound impact on our understanding of how markets work, companies manage themselves and individuals make decisions. It has spurred entire new fields of research in "behavioral" economics and finance. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman has written a masterpiece that translates his findings in a way that is engaging, accessible and applicable to all business decision-makers. As Steven Levitt, the author of Freakeconomics, wrote, "this book is a must-read for anyone with a curious mind."
Bill Rand, director of the Center for Complexity in Business
The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You by Eli Pariser (2011, Penguin Press)
Rand: The president of MoveOn.org talks about how Google, Facebook and other online companies are showing us what they think we want to see via personalization. This is subsequently creating echo chambers around each and every individual that gives them only news and information that is compatible and does not challenge his or her world view. Eli calls upon companies involved in this space to address this challenge head-on and provide users with the ability to balance their personal interests with public and societal concerns. This is a truly eye-opening book that explores the dark side to personalization.
Asher Epstein, managing director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson (2011, Princeton University Press)
Epstein: This book discusses the greatest innovation to impact global commerce in the past 60 years. The shipping container demonstrates that not all disruptive technology needs to be high tech, but that an ecosystem is required for the successful solution to a problem not just a need product. The Box details the trials and errors, as well as the iterative approaches, which allowed for standardization of shipping containers across truck, train and sea. This reduced the cost of shipping by orders of magnitudes, disrupted labors markets and created new consumers while expanding the global supply chain. While the Internet reduced communication costs, product reduction costs wouldn’t have occurred on the same scale without the box. A great read for those interested in global trends, entrepreneurship and disruptive innovations.
Harry Geller, entrepreneur-in-residence
Harvesting Intangible Assets by Andrew Sherman (2011, AMACON)
Geller: Andrew Sherman's new book about keeping your company competitive by harvesting IP that you already possess, is a simple idea that up to now has been difficult to implement. Andrew shows how (to harvest intellectual property) in a highly readable and understandable fashion. It’s a great complement to some my other Sherman favorites, like Road Rules and Franchising and Licensing. Add it to your library. Highly recommend!
Rebecca Hamilton, associate professor of marketing
The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective and Powerful Ways to use Social Media to Drive Social Change by Jennifer Aasker and Andy Smith (2010, Jossey-Bass)
Hamilton: Jennifer Aaker is a marketing professor at Stanford and the book, based on a class she teaches, outlines strategies for using social media to drive change. The book provides a framework and concrete tips for designing an online campaign convincing others to take action. Although it is tactical, the book is also very readable because the authors use case studies to communicate key points. I found the book especially compelling because Aaker conducts research on consumer behavior, allowing her to explain and generalize the case studies in the book by referencing relevant research findings.
Brent Goldfarb, associate professor of entrepreneurship and management
Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup by David Cohen and Brad Feld (2010, Wiley)
Goldfarb: If it was easy to figure out, someone would be doing it. Finding the correct business solution to a problem requires a great deal of experimentation. Do More Faster suggests strategies to learn about a business environment in a quick, economic manner and achieve business model focus more quickly.
Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur (2010, Wiley)
Goldfarb: This is a fantastic framework for connecting business strategies to organization design. It provides a framework for stakeholders to understand new business models in both entrepreneurial ventures and established firms.
Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle by Dan Senor and Saul Singer (2009, Twelve)
Goldfarb: A great story of how an entrepreneur's skills, social network and business environment are all critical components in entrepreneurial ecosystems. Anyone with an interest in entrepreneurial policy must read this book.