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Smith School’s Top 10 Summer Reading List for 2009

Jun 15, 2009
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The University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business is excited to announce some favorite books in the "Sixth Annual Top 10 Summer Reading List for Business Leaders" for 2009, as recommended by faculty members and administrators.


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Outliers: The Story of Success (2008) by Malcolm Gladwell is a thought-provoking book that looks at the building blocks of personal achievement, making you reflect on your own history and envision how the world would be if everyone was able to reach their full potential. Outliers is Gladwell’s third book on the Smith School’s Top 10 list – Blink and The Tipping Point appeared in 2005. “Outliers gives some very interesting and compelling reasons why some people succeed” says Smith School Dean G. “Anand” Anandalingam. “Although many people seemingly have the same background and experience, some people succeed because of luck, and some set themselves up to take advantage of opportunity.”


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The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (2008) by Niall Ferguson chronicles human progress revealing that finance is the real story behind all of history. "In the past year the global economy has experienced what seems to participants to be a gut-wrenching upheaval,” says Bob Krapfel, associate dean for MBA/MS programs and associate professor of marketing. “Many serious observers are drawing comparisons to the Great Depression era. While it remains to be seen whether a scenario that drastic will unfold, the situation presents a ‘teachable moment’ on a grand scale. Well grounded historical context is always an aid to leaders and decision makers in times of turmoil and crisis."


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Getting China & India Right: Strategies for Leveraging the World’s Fastest Growing Economies for Global Advantage (2009), by Anil K. Gupta, Smith School Ralph J. Tyser Professor of Strategy & Organization, and Haiyan Wang, MBA ’95, uncovers the surprising range of hidden opportunities and challenges presented by these emerging giants. The authors reveal the secrets to capturing the hearts, minds, and wallets of consumers there and to leveraging the complementary strengths of each country to achieve global dominance. "Getting India and China right is a playbook for executives and organizations – both those that are and want to be globally competitive – to building a successful strategy around what are arguably the two most important emerging economies,” says Paul Tesluk, Tyser Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management and department co-chair. “It is a must read for anyone wishing to develop a more global business mindset."


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The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide to Success in Business and Life (2008), by Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff is the sequel to their bestseller in game theory, Thinking Strategically. “For my recommendation, I would defer to our own Tom Schelling, Nobel Prize winner in Economics and University of Maryland faculty member,” saysHugh Courtney, associate dean of executive programs and Professor of the Practice of Strategy. “Schelling said about this book: ‘For years I have been asked what to read in order to learn, or to learn about, game theory. I eventually chose Thinking Strategically by Dixit and Nalebuff. Now I can recommend with even more enthusiasm their wonderfully ingenious new presentation. And if you already know game theory, just enjoy it.’” Courtney agrees wholeheartedly, “These guys walk the fine line between academic rigor and practical relevance beautifully, and are outstanding writers and story-tellers.”


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The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World (2008), by Pamela Hartigan and John Elkington gives a complete view of the social entrepreneurship movement through crisp definitions and distinct strategies that focus on how entrepreneurs with visions for a better world deliver solutions to market failures and lack of public good. “It is a must read for anyone looking to understand the fast growing, market changing force behind today's social entrepreneurs,” says Melissa Carrier, executive director of the Smith School’s Initiative for Social Value Creation “Business and non-profit leaders alike will be inspired to create their own solutions to social and environmental issues after reading the fascinating stories in this book; and the authors provide a valuable blueprint for integrating economic prosperity and transformative social change in any organization, regardless of type or size.”


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The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb examines the influence of highly improbable and unpredictable events that have massive impact. “This book presents a case for why, despite significant advances in modeling and analytics, financial experts were simply unable to anticipate the recent mortgage market catastrophe and its associated impact on financial markets generally,” saysClifford Rossi, managing director of the Smith School’s Center for Financial Policy & Corporate Governance and Tyser Teaching Fellow. David Kass, finance lecturer, says, “"Taleb argues that most of the really big events in our world are rare and unpredictable. September 11th is one such example, and stock market crashes are another.”


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Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (2008), by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins & L. Hunter Lovins illustrates how business can be good for the environment. “This book is all about new business models to solve some of our most pressing problems today,” says Rachelle Sampson, assistant professor of logistic business & public policy. “Rather than taking an approach that sustainability and environmental stewardship require additional costs and lower profitability, this book puts forth ideas on how firms can both be profitable and save the planet.”


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Recruit or Die: How Any Business Can Beat the Big Guys in the War for Young Talent (2007), by Chris Resto, Ian Ybarra & Ramit Sethi gives an inside look at college recruiting. “This book is extremely valuable and interesting reading for any leader, not just an HR manager,” says Joyce E. A. Russell, Distinguished Tyser Teaching Fellow. “It gives excellent insights into what all leaders in organizations of any size can and should be doing to attract the next generation of workers to their firm.”


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The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American Affluence (2008), by Robert J. Samuelson discusses the crippling inflation that hit the United States from the mid-1960s to 1982, resulting in four recessions. “For the business world, the ‘elephant in the room’ remains the macroeconomy,” says Curt Grimm, Dean's Professor of Supply Chain and Strategy. “Samuelson's new book provides an insightful historical perspective on today's macro turmoil. The Great Inflation refers to the double-digit stagflation of the 1970s, with coverage of how we got into that mess, and the pernicious effects of the inflation which surprised most economists at the time. The Aftermath refers to the long shadow of Reaganomics, which, with the key role of Volcker's Fed, slayed the dragon of inflation, but Samuelson links to the troubles of today.”


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Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions(2008) by Dan Ariely debunks myths about rational decision making and argues that we are systematically and predictably irrational. Smith SchoolDean G. “Anand” Anandalingam says this is one of the best books he has read in the past five years and it is back in our Top 10 list for a second consecutive year. This year’s edition of the book has been updated to include a section on subprime loans. Bill Longbrake, executive-in-residence of finance says, “While it is non-technical reading, it does have a degree of academic rigor. Also, and importantly, the contents of the book reflect the Obama Administration’s approach to policy making and links to the Administration’s agenda for change in America.”

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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, MS in business, 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.