News at Smith

10 Business Books for Your Summer Reading List (2014)

Jun 23, 2014
World Class Faculty & Research


The University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business is excited to announce some favorite books in the "11th Annual Top-10 Summer Reading List for Business Leaders" for 2014, as recommended by members of its faculty and administrators. If you're heading off to business school as an undergrad/MBA or you are already climbing up the corporate ladder, these books will keep you up-to-date on current trends.

 1. “The Art of Choosing”
Sheena Iyengar

“‘The Art of Choosing’ by Sheena Iyengar looks at how we make choices and how that shapes our lives,” says Amna Kirmani, director of doctoral programs and professor of marketing. Iyengar is a psychologist and professor at Columbia University. “One of her findings is that too much choice is demotivating,” says Kirmani. “Sometimes we prefer limited choice.”

 2. “The Clash of the Cultures”
John C. Bogle

“A financial adviser who has often spoken to my classes said there are only two reasons to take risks in investing: because you want to or because you have to,” says Susan White, Distinguished Tyser Teaching Fellow of Finance. “‘Have to’ refers to choosing high-return, high-reward investments because that is the only way to potentially achieve future savings goals. Jack Bogle, retired CEO of the Vanguard Group, discusses the ‘want to’ reason for taking risks in ‘The Clash of the Cultures.’ His book lambasts publicly-traded financial firms that have performed poorly because of risk-taking. Bogle believes many of these companies had speculative rather than investment mindsets, emphasized short-term vs. long-term profitability, and traded frequently without regard to the costs vs. benefits of the trades. He contends such speculation created value for management at the expense of shareholders and clients. His message in this book, which reinforces his message in his earlier books, is that investing in index vs. actively managed funds is better for investors because of the lower costs of index funds.”

 3. “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know”
Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

“In ‘The Confidence Code,’ Katty Kay and Claire Shipman use neuroscience to examine and discuss research on the roots of confidence in our brains,” says Joyce Russell, vice dean of the Smith School. “In a practical, reader-friendly style, they provide examples of women leaders from all types of industries (e.g., politics, sports, military, arts) to show how confidence impacts leadership and success. They offer some great tips to women about building confidence, such as taking more action and more risks, and avoiding all the people-pleasing and perfectionistic behaviors. As an executive coach, I would highly recommend this book to all of my women leaders, and encourage them to share it with women colleagues, friends, and, yes, even their daughters!”

  4. "Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain"
by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner 
"Think Like a Freak" is the latest best-selling book from "Freakonomics" authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. "This book is on my summer reading list because it demonstrates how to approach problem solving in a completely different way," says Smith School Dean Alex Triantis. "It can be eye-opening to see how attitude and perception affect decision-making."

 5. “Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness”
Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

“‘Nudge’ is co-authored by a powerful duo: the creator of the field of behavioral economics and a prolific legal writer who has been an adviser to President Obama,” says Rebecca Ratner, professor of marketing and assistant dean of academic affairs for undergraduate programs. “Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein draw from the results of behavioral experiments to show how to nudge individuals to make better decisions. These nudges are produced by what the authors call ‘choice architecture,’ and can be used to help people better investments, save more for retirement and follow a more healthful diet, among others. This is a timely and smart book for anyone interested in behavioral science, business and public policy.”

 6. “Uncontrolled: The Surprising Payoff of Trial-and-Error for Business, Politics, and Society”
Jim Manzi

“In ‘Uncontrolled,’ Jim Manzi explains how we can use quantitative evidence for better business decision making,” says Brent Goldfarb, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship. “No competent leader can ignore this trend.”

 7. “The Necessity of Strangers: The Intriguing Truth About Insight, Innovation, and Success”
Alan Gregerman

“‘The Necessity of Strangers’ by Alan Gregerman is a thought-provoking book that will challenge the way you think about innovation and collaboration,” says Kathryn Bartol, professor of management and organization. “Gregerman provided compelling examples, engaging stories and practical guidance regarding how strangers can help us be more creative and achieve greater collaboration.”

 8. “Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All”
David Kelley & Tom Kelley

“IDEO founder David Kelley and his brother Tom Kelley, IDEO partner, have written a compelling book, ‘Creative Confidence,’ that shows that creativity is not magic as it is a skill that can be developed,” says Mark Wellman, Distinguished Tyser Teaching Fellow of management and organization. “In an inspiring narrative, the authors demonstrate that everyone has the potential to be creative and provide incredibly useful insights that will give us the break out of our ruts and be more creative.”

 9. “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”
Thomas Piketty

“‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ addresses income and wealth inequality, one of the most important economic issues of our time,” says Curt Grimm, professor and Charles A. Taff Chair of Economics and Strategy. “Piketty draws on data across countries and over time in making the case that income inequality is a natural outcome in market economies. The book has engendered a great deal of attention and controversy, unusual for a serious economic treatise, but illustrating the importance of inequality.” Ritu Agarwal, professor and the Robert H. Smith Dean’s Chair of Information Systems, also highly recommends this book, saying, “The list would be incomplete without Thomas Piketty’s ‘Capital.’”

 10. “#GirlBoss”
Sophia Amoruso

“‘#GirlBoss,’ by Sophia Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal, tells the story of how she grew her vintage clothing business on eBay to a $100 million fashion e-retailer with 350 employees that ships to 60 countries around the world,” says Rebecca Winner, executive director of marketing communications. “Amoruso is refreshingly candid about her ups and downs along the way and remarkably thrifty for a fashionista (one chapter is titled ‘Money looks better in the bank than on your feet’).”

Bonus Picks by Smith Faculty

 “The Silk Road Rediscovered How Indian and Chinese Companies Are Becoming Globally Stronger by Winning in Each Other's Markets”
Anil Gupta, Michael D. Dingman Chair in Strategy and Entrepreneurship, Girija Pand and Haiyan Wang 
 “Social Media Intelligence”
Wendy Moe, Associate Professor of Marketing, and David A. Schweidel 
 “Leader of One: Shaping Your Future through Imagination and Design”
J. Gerald Suarez, Professor of the Practice in Systems Thinking & Design

Previous Summer Reading Lists

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 master's, 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.

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