News at Smith

Smith School Faculty & Deans Offer 2004 "Top 10 Summer Reading List for Business Leaders"

Jun 15, 2004


Smith School faculty members and deans are excited to recommend some of their favorite business books in a "Top 10 Reading List for Business Leaders."

1. "Rational Exuberance: Silencing the Enemies of Growth and Why the Future Is Better Than You Think" by Michael Mandel, chief economist atBusinessWeek. Mandel says that without exuberant, technology-driven growth, the U.S. economy will lack the firepower to solve its social problems. Without breakthrough innovations like the internal combustion engine or the Internet, the U.S. economy simply can't create enough jobs or wealth to provide for its citizenry. "The book emphasizes the strong importance of technology in economic growth and also pulls together issues of economic policy and innovation," says Smith School Dean Howard Frank.
2. "The Financial Times Guide to Executive Health," by James Campbell Quick, Cary L. Cooper, Jonathan D. Quick, Joanne H. Gavin. Recommended by Associate Dean for Executive Education and Marketing Communications Scott Koerwer, Executive Health is a health and lifestyle coach for the intelligent business person. "As the professional arena becomes more dependent and driven by the latest technologies all of us who sell our labor are challenged by the demands on our time," says Koerwer. "Finding balance is almost a foregone discussion as technology and globalization ensure access and require our attention, respectively in the 24x365 world we have created. What becomes critical are the routines executives develop to maintain their personal health. The Financial Times has captured many of the discussions in this book, very well, which is why this is at the top of my summer reading list. The age-old adage applies ... if you have your health, you have everything," adds Koerwer.
3. "Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity," by Francis Fukuyama. Trust studies the interconnectedness of economic life with cultural life. Calling it a "marvelous and insightful book," Pat Cleveland, assistant dean for undergraduate programs, says it is "crammed with empirical examples to illustrate Fukuyama's thesis that successful economic development depends upon social capital, which is developed through networks of trusting relationships at all levels. Trust, as embodied in a myriad of social relationships between the family and the state, is what makes it possible for long-term, complex and far-flung enterprises to emerge, grow and thrive."
4. "Peddling Prosperity," by Paul Krugman. Krugman traces how loose economic thinking has repeatedly led to wrongheaded government policies. "This is a very readable book about how economic ideas have seeped into the political debate," says Susan Feinberg, assistant professor of international business. "Krugman talks about how politicians often misuse or misinterpret basic economic concepts and there's a fun section of the book called How to Lie with Statistics. Krugman covers a wide range of topics from monetary to fiscal policy, to international trade, budget deficits, and income distribution," Feinberg adds. "It's a great read."
5. "Capital Ideas: The Improbable Origins of Modern Wall Street," by Peter L. Bernstein. Bernstein traces the merging of academic research with the curbstone techniques of Wall Street in this book about the modern financial marketplace. "Capital Ideas starts with early descriptions of stock prices and goes through portfolio theory and the Captial Asset Pricing Model (CAPM)," says Lou Gattis, teaching professor of finance at Smith. "It focuses on the big picture and describes revolutionary ideas that shaped the current finance industry. The text is enjoyable to read and will compliment any introductory portfolio management course," adds Gattis.
6. "Why Smart Executives Fail: And What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes," by Sydney Finkelstein. A timely topic,Finkelstein gives a definitive study of executive failures--why they happen and how to prevent them. Today's business climate is full of examples of once-hailed executives crumbling into disaster. "Often students learn the right ways to operate, but might not know what causes managers to deviate from the right way," says Haluk Unal, professor of finance. "This book is a great source for learning about the mistakes."
7. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. Lewis examines how in 2002 the Oakland Athletics achieved a spectacular winning record while having the smallest player payroll of any major league baseball team. "This book about the general manager of a baseball team is really a call for scientific management," says Roland Rust, David Bruce Smith Chair in Marketing. "The Oakland A's achieved this success by adopting the revolutionary ideas of A's general manager Billy Beane, who uses computerized statistical analysis to drive his decision making. By making all decisions quantitative and accountable, Beane enables his organization to compete effectively, in spite of having fewer resources to work with," says Rust. "This is a fun book to read for a sports fan, and also a fun book to read for someone who wants to make management more scientific. The resistance Beane encounters is not unlike the current resistance to modern management by more traditional managers and executives."
8. "World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability," by Amy Chua. Drawing on examples from around the world, Chua examines how free markets do not spread wealth evenly throughout the whole of these societies. Sue White, teaching professor of finance, recommends this book because it raises interesting issues about globalization. "It looked at the ways American business is perceived in other countries and it raised questions about the problems that arise when a minority holds a great deal of economic power," says White. "It also pointed out that while democracy is the hallmark of the American system, we did not become a democracy overnight. The book concludes that perhaps we should not expect other countries to become instant democracies," says White.
9. "Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't," by Jim Collins. Over five years, Collins and his research team analyzed the histories of twenty-eight companies and discovered the key determinants of greatness and why some companies make the leap and others don't. The findings of the Good to Great study may surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. "Most books on business success or failure tend to focus on extreme cases that deal with either phenomenal success or utter failure," says Anil Gupta, Ralph J. Tyser Professor of Strategy and Organization. "This book, like Collins' earlier book, "Built to Last," stands out because it focuses on how the average performing firm can become a standout," says Gupta.
10. "A Random Walk Down Wall Street," by Burton G. Malkiel. In this completely revised and updated eighth edition of a staple on the business leader's bookshelf, Malkiel uses the dot-com crash as an object lesson in how not to manage your portfolio. "The only constant in the financial world is change, yet the average investor continually thinks he is above average and ahead of the curve" says Assistant Professor of Finance Steve Heston. "We have seen recent scandals in the mutual fund industry where fund management participated in profiteering at the expense of stakeholders. Yet the real scandal is that mutual fund managers do not outperform the market, while charging exorbitant fees," says Heston. "Overconfidence is human nature. It explains why people think they are above average at driving, romance and investing. But it is very costly in investing. This book is a classic book on market efficiency. It explains why you can't beat the market, even if you think you can," he adds.

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.