10 Business Books For Summer Reading

by: David Kass

Originally Published June 13, 2016

The University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business is excited to announce some favorite books in the "13th Annual Top-10 Summer Reading List for Business Leaders" for 2016, as recommended by members of its faculty and administrators.

(1) The Devil's Financial Dictionary (2015)
By Jason Zweig

Susan White, clinical professor of finance, says, "'The Devil's Financial Dictionary' by Jason Zweig, Wall Street Journal columnist, is a follow-up a century later to Ambrose Bierce's 'The Devil's Dictionary.' In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Bierce satirized the excessive displays of wealth in the first Gilded Age. Zweig considers the excesses of financial institutions leading up to the Great Recession in the mid-2000s to be the second Gilded Age, when the banks sold 'safe' securities that soon defaulted, leaving executives richer and investors poorer. The book is funny, mostly accurate and provides a fun read on financial jargon. He defines 'day trader' (idiot); 'broker' (someone using guesswork to buy and sell assets) and 'acquisition' (when one company pays too much for another). This is a very humorous way to learn about investing and Wall Street jargon!"

(2) The Disruption Dilemma (2016)
By Joshua Gans

"'The Disruption Dilemma' provides the latest in understanding the disruption phenomenon," says Brent Goldfarb, associate professor of management and organization. "If you think you understand when large firms are in danger, and what they should do, as well as when there are opportunities for startups, this is a must-read book."

(3) The Smartest Places on Earth: Why Rustbelts Are the Emerging Hotspots of Global Innovation (2016)
By Antoine van Agtmael and Fred Bakker

Bill Longbrake, executive in residence, says, "Economist and former World Bank official Antoine van Agtmael coined the phrase 'emerging markets' 35 years ago, but now says the trend behind that concept is shifting. In 'The Smartest Places on Earth' he writes about 'brain belts' - U.S. cities reinventing themselves with new technology. These represent places where opportunity cost is low and companies pool basic research or tap into a public university for manufacturing based on robotics, 3D printing and internet-connected devices. This trend appears to have unambiguously positive long-run implications for the U.S. economy."

(4) The Courage To Act: A Memoir Of A Crisis And Its Aftermath (2015)
By Ben S. Bernanke

"This book is highly recommended for providing insights into the extremely difficult and controversial decisions that were made by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke throughout the Financial Crisis and Great Recession of 2007-9 and afterwards," says David Kass, clinical professor of finance. "Working closely with his fellow Federal Reserve Governors, both Secretaries of the Treasury Hank Paulson (Bush Administration) and Tim Geithner (Obama Administration), and with Congress, Ben Bernanke carefully navigated a potentially treacherous path by taking appropriate actions that saved the economy from an outcome that could have closely paralleled the Great Depression of the 1930s. Of particular interest was his determination and judgment to resist the arguments of some who opposed the Federal Reserve's intervention in general, and the assistance in the orderly takeover of Bear Stearns by J.P. Morgan Chase in March, 2008, in particular. Bernanke was mindful of the dangers of moral hazard (the risk that rescuing investors and financial institutions from the consequences of their bad decisions could encourage more bad decisions in the future). However, a majority of the Federal Reserve's members lost patience with this argument. 'As the central bank, we have the responsibility to help markets function normally and to promote economic stability broadly speaking.' The bailout of Bear Stearns and other financial institutions did stabilize the economy, but these firms also suffered the consequences of losing their independence, their shareholders took severe losses, and many of their employees lost their jobs."

(5) Unleash Your Inner Company: Use Passion and Perseverance to Build Your Ideal Business (2015)
By John Chisholm

"In 'Unleash Your Inner Company,' John Chisholm uses his practical insights as an entrepreneur to create simple yet highly effective conceptual frameworks that can be applied not only by those thinking of starting their own company, but also by those seeking to be enterprising within existing organizations," says Rajshree Agarwal, Rudolph Lamone Chair and Professor in Strategy and Entrepreneurship and director of the Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets. "He develops the STARS acronym to highlight the five essential elements that need to be aligned for future success. The book integrates across psychological, social, economic and philosophical principles to provide a holistic (and realistic) portrayal of an entrepreneurial journey, in a can-do, upbeat sense of life."

(6) Elegant Entrepreneur: The Female Founders Guide to Starting & Growing Your First Company (2015)
By Danielle Tate

"Written from the author's perspective as an early stage entrepreneur, Danielle has created a how-to guide to turn the typically messy process of starting a business into an elegant process of identifying a problem and taking its solution to market," says Elana Fine, managing director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. "While written for female founders, this book has valuable tips and insights for any entrepreneur."

(7) Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation (2016)
By Edward Humes

"This wide-ranging and well-written book brings to life the key role of both freight and passenger transportation in the economy and in our daily lives," says Curt Grimm, professor and Charles A. Taff Chair of Economics and Strategy. "Globalization and the key role played by transportation in supporting the global economy is one important theme. The book also looks forward, exploring a future with driverless cars and the triumph of the shared economy."

(8) Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World (2016)
By Adam Grant

Kathryn Bartol, Robert H. Smith Professor of Leadership and Innovation and co-director of the Center for Leadership, Innovation and Change (CLIC), says, "New York Times best-selling author, Adam Grant offers fascinating insight into how innovations occur with his new book, 'Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.' Combining findings from social science research with myriad of interesting examples, the book will help readers find ways to boost their own prospects for originality. For instance, procrastinators may take comfort in learning that Leonardo da Vinci spent almost 16 years completing the Mona Lisa while he seemingly dabbled in optical experiments and other activities that ultimately helped him be original. In an entertaining way, Grant delves into a variety of key topics, such as the importance of speaking up, the value of generating many ideas, possibilities for nurturing originality, and more."

(9) Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built (2016)
By Duncan Clark

"This book tells the fascinating story of how, starting as a teacher of modest means, Jack Ma built one of the world's greatest companies," says Kislaya Prasad, research professor and executive director of the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER). "Alibaba has been described as eBay, PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL), and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) all rolled into one. It had a $25 billion IPO in 2014 (the largest global IPO of all time). Jack Ma's name has become as recognizable worldwide now as Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, but much less is known about him. This book tells the shared story of the man and his company. Ma's entrepreneurial spirit and visionary leadership come across well. The book is also the story of Alibaba's (NYSE:BABA) meteoric success and the rise of China's e-commerce industry, especially in the face of competition from established Western giants such as eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY). The reader will come away with a much deeper understanding of Chinese businesses, its consumers and the economy as a whole."

(10) If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Happy? (2016)
by Raj Raghunathan

P.K. Kannan, Ralph J. Tyser Professor of Marketing Science, says, "This is a book just published, written by Raj Raghunathan who took a couple of classes from me when he was a doctoral student in University of Arizona. He is now a professor of marketing at the University of Texas at Austin. I happened to come across this title on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and ordered it online on a whim and I am glad I did it! In the book, Raj explores the correlation between academic success and career success and between career success and what he calls 'life success.' He finds that correlations are very low and sets about examining why smart people who make great choices when it comes to academics and career fail at life success and become unhappy. Raj draws in findings from his extensive research on this topic and has created a very engaging and readable book. I recommend it highly."

Bonus Picks

Technology and the Disruption of Higher Education: Saving the American University (2015)
By Hank Lucas

Are today's colleges going the way of Blockbuster after the rise of Netflix and streaming video? Things might not be quite so dire. But Henry C. Lucas, Jr., Robert H. Smith Professor of Information Systems, argues that college leaders need to act more quickly than they have so far if don't want to be swept aside by emerging technologies - but, rather, take advantage of them. Lucas's new book, Technology and the Disruption of Higher Education: Saving the American University, recounts his own experiences with online education and is intended to serve as a wake-up call for traditional educators. "What I'm trying to do is convince people that this technology is not something they can ignore," he says - much as some traditionalist professors might wish they could.

The Culture Map: Breaking through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business (2014)
By Erin Meyer

Rebecca Bellinger, managing director of the Office of Global Initiatives and the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), says, "Given the inevitably global nature of modern business, this is a must-read for everyone from the student who plans to study abroad, to faculty who interact with colleagues at foreign institutions, to the industry professional getting ready to travel on a trade mission, lead a multinational team, or take an assignment abroad. Written by a professor of cross-cultural management at INSEAD, this book charts business cultures along eight dimensions and provides advice on how to effectively navigate culturally-informed situations. Meyer's writing style, which relies heavily on field experiences and anecdotes, makes the concepts accessible for even the international business or travel novice. A key takeaway from the Culture Map model is that cultural relativity, how one views another culture in relationship to his own, is the key to understanding the impact of culture on how people interact with one another in a business context."

This has also been published by the Washington Post.