A new selection of business literature from SKOLKOVO Library Project Manager Helen Edwards - read, discuss and advise the most interesting books!
1. Poor economics: a radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty
Abhjihit Banerjee and Esther Duflo
Winner of the FT Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year 2011, this book reveals the lives of the 850 million people who live on less than a dollar a day. By a process of randomised controlled trials throughout the world, the researchers test the impact of policies designed to help poor people. They found that the billions of dollars spent on government, NGO and charity sponsored programmes can be based on untested assumptions, characterised by ideology, inertia and ignorance. Also the perilous existence endured by the very poor can affect their decision making, so that seemingly beneficial opportunities are not taken up. This book maps out a third way between those in favour of foreign aid and those who believe it does no good.
Willful blindness: why we ignore the obvious at our peril
Simon & Schuster, 2011.
Also shortlisted for the FT Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year 2011, Margaret Heffernan looks into the concept of wilful blindness, defined as that which you could and should have known, but deliberately determine not to see. The book explores such concepts as "just following orders" and "out of sight out of mind" where people play their part in activities while shielding themselves from acknowledging their full impact. Systems also have much to answer for by dissipating information and reducing individual responsibility and by maintaining competitive corporate cultures which provoke conformity.
The rare find: spotting exceptional talent before everyone else
Portfolio Penguin, 2011.
Instead of asking if a candidate or employee is good enough, this book explores how to identify those people with spectacular potential. Despite availability of ever more data, when it comes to spotting the stirrings of genius, conventional selection processes often miss the very people able to make the most impact. The author discusses the jagged resume, talent that whispers and talent that shouts, using stories from the performance industries - sport, the arts and entertainment- , the high stakes business of finance and IT and public service - the military, teaching, government and medicine. Examples include the Facebook puzzle page where computer programmers can submit their solutions to problems, through which Facebook has recruited some extraordinary talent which would never have passed standard hiring routes.
The real mad men: the remarkable true story of Madison Avenue's golden age, when a handful of renegades changed advertising
Advertising is about persuasion. This book shows how in New York in the 1960s a new creativity was brought into advertising, introducing story telling, humour and the unexpected. There are many pictures showing the most iconic campaigns such as the Think Small ad for the volkswagen.. The book also tells the story of the ad agencies themselves, the energy that the rapid expansion of the city and ethnic diversity brought to the industry, the personalities and the lessons to be learned for creative businesses today.
5. The learning curve: how business school are re-inventing education
Santiago Iniguez de Onzono
Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
xxi, 202 pages
Business studies is now amongst one of the most popular subjects in western higher education but at the same time business schools have been blamed for educating the very leaders responsible for the financial crisis.This book discusses the current status of business schools, the influence of technology, e-learning and internationalisation and the role of the for profit retailers of business education. Also explored is the nature of knowledge creation in business schools and the approaches to research which seem most relevant to business today.