10 Business Books for Your Summer Reading List

The University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business is excited to announce some favorite books in the 14th Annual Top-10 Summer Reading List for Business Leaders for 2017, as recommended by faculty members.

(1) The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed Our Minds
By Michael Lewis (2016)

“The author of ‘Moneyball,’ ‘The Blind Side’ and ‘The Big Short’ has written another masterpiece,” says David Kass, clinical professor of finance. “In ‘The Undoing Project,’ Michael Lewis describes how two disparate personalities collaborate on research in psychology that results in a Nobel Prize in economics. As a 10-year-old boy in France, Daniel Kahneman and his family narrowly escape the Nazis during World War II. Years later in Israel, Kahneman, now a psychologist, successfully designs questionnaires to determine which Israelis would become the most effective officers in the military. Amos Tversky, an Israeli war hero, subsequently meets and collaborates with Kahneman to perform seminal research that contradicts the primary assumption of rationality in classical economics and forms the basis of behavioral economics, which seeks to explain frequently observed irrational behavior by consumers. Their research demonstrated how the human mind systematically erred when making judgments in uncertain situations.”

(2) How Innovation Really Works: Using the Trillion Dollar R&D Fix to Drive Growth
By Anne Marie Knott (2017)

“This year’s recommendation is a no-brainer,” says Brent Goldfarb, associate professor of management and organization. “‘How Innovation Really Works’ is an extremely provocative book that has lessons for investors, business professionals who manage R&D, and those interested in industrial and technological leadership. Knott’s Research Quotient (RQ) identifies when companies are investing appropriately in R&D, and when they are investing too little or too much. Investing in an annually re-weighted index of the top 50 RQ companies outperforms the market by 800 percent (not a typo). She then describes the many mechanisms in which the market’s short-term focus leads to the decline of companies’ capabilities – and how to use RQ to fix the problem. All business leaders, policy wonks and investors should read this book.”

(3) Against the Gods, The Remarkable Story of Risk
By Peter L. Bernstein (1998)

Clifford Rossi, excecutive in residence and professor of the practice, says, “My favorite book is ‘Against the Gods, The Remarkable Story of Risk,’ by Peter Bernstein. While the title doesn’t sound like a book you would pick up for beach reading, it is a terrific, fast-paced nontechnical read of how human beings have evolved in assessing risk of all types. The book is a wonderful tour through history in terms of each era’s contributions to risk management. Anyone with an interest in what risk management is about should pick up this book.”

(4) The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization
By Richard Baldwin (2016)

“In this tumultuous time of rebellion against globalization it is particularly important to understand the forces driving the ‘new age of globalization,’” says Kislaya Prasad, research professor and executive director of the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER). “Baldwin argues that new information and communication technologies enable globally dispersed supply chains where technical know-how and ideas move across borders to low-wage countries. The impact of this new globalization, both in developed and developing nations is ‘more sudden, more selective, more unpredictable, and more uncontrollable.’”

(5) Human Acts
By Han Kang (2017)

Translated into English from Korean, “Human Acts” is the latest book from “The Vegetarian” author Han Kang. Michael Fu, Smith Chair of Management Science, says, “It’s a very moving (and tragic) portrait of humanity from various perspectives of different characters portrayed during the 1980 uprising/massacre in Gwangju, South Korea. The writing is quite poetic, even in translation.”

(6) Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations
By Thomas Friedman (2016)

“In his latest book, ‘Thank You for Being Late,’ Thomas Friedman believes that technology, globalization and climate change are reshaping our institutions in the ‘age of accelerations,’ and all of us need to keep up or be left behind,” says Mark Wellman, clinical professor of management and organization. “What concerns Friedman is that individuals as well as our institutions have not been able to keep up with the rapid technological change. For individuals keeping up in the ‘age of acceleration’ involves adapting, extraordinary self-motivation and a more intense commitment to mastering new skills. ‘Thank You for Being Late’ serves as a rallying cry for people to take charge of their education and focus on critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. Friedman concludes, ‘everyone is going to have to raise their game in the classroom and for their whole lifetime.’”

(7) Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions
By Guy Kawasaki (2012)

“This book is a few years old, but I love the message and lessons,” says Wendy Moe, professor of marketing. “Guy Kawasaki is a successful venture capitalist (he was actually an angel investor for my first startup) and entrepreneur, and ‘Enchantment’ is about branding and marketing yourself. It’s a great read.”

(8) The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present
By John Pomfret (2016)

“My summer reading recommendation is a detailed description of U.S.-China relations for over 200 years, even more relevant today,” says Michel Wedel, PepsiCo Chaired Professor of Consumer Science. “This book is good summer reading because: (1) It will take you most of the summer (800 or so pages!); (2) It is very relevant given the current political relations between China and the U.S. and will enable to place it in a historical context; and (3) It is relevant for the future of business in the U.S. and U.S. business schools, given their dependence on the relationship of the U.S. with China.”

(9) Tap: Unlocking the Mobile Economy
By Anindya Ghose (2017)

Yogesh Joshi, associate professor of marketing, says, “I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in getting up to speed on how the mobile economy works, what motivates consumers’ mobile behaviors, and how to make mobile work for your business. The author is a widely recognized IS/marketing expert and a global authority on the mobile economy. He has conducted extensive academic research in this space, which he presents succinctly to the non-academic audience via this book.”

(10) The Age of Responsibility: Luck, Choice, and the Welfare State 
By Yascha Mounk (2017)

“In this book, Yascha Mounk discusses what duties government has toward the destitute, regardless of the reasons for their plight,” says Bill Longbrake, executive in residence. “Prior to the Reagan ‘revolution,’ an accepted role of government was the collective responsibility of society to care for its citizens. During the 1980s, the U.S. conservative viewpoint reshaped this premise to emphasize that each individual is accountable for his/her actions. Mounk observes that most, regardless of political ideology, have come to accept the notion that personal responsibility is now central to our moral vocabulary, to philosophical debates about distributive justice, to our political rhetoric, and to our public policies. ‘Today, … more and more welfare commitments are conditioned on good, or responsible, behavior.’ But, Mounk argues that this is ‘deeply punitive’ because the plight of many is beyond their personal ability to exercise responsible control over their lives. In this book, Mounk describes how we got to the current view of personal responsibility and then discusses why our society needs to move from a punitive to a positive conception of responsibility.”

Bonus Pick

#Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media
By Cass Sunstein (2017)

“In the aftermath of the recent presidential elections, the observation that the country is extremely polarized – with the two sides living in echo chambers interacting only with people with similar views – is perhaps not in itself very profound,” says Kislaya Prasad. “This is a trend that social media, with its algorithms that personalize news feeds, accentuates. Cass Sunstein is able to articulate precisely why this is a danger to democracy, and provides a number of useful suggestions that might lead to a more enlightened public debate on the issues of our times.”

Reprinted from Smith news, originally published June 14, 2017.

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