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S+B's Top 25 Business Books for 2000-2001

Kennedy argues that the corporate boardroom's preoccupation with shareholder value has led companies to mortgage their futures for today's higher stock price. It also created a class of entrepreneurs who, for a brief time, were able to sell companies to a gullible investing public at unsupportable prices. The author offers a host of boardroom reforms, with an eye on making this body more responsive to multiple stakeholder interests.

9. The Sum of Our Discontent: Why Numbers Make Us Irrational, by David Boyle, Texere, 2001

The obsession with quantification, especially in the business world, makes it all the more difficult to discern the measures that matter and the ones we can trust. Boyle argues that our trouble in understanding complex economic and sociological problems is linked to our over reliance on simple statistical explanations.

10. Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet, by Howard Gardner, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and William Damon, Basic Books, 2001

This is a penetrating exploration of the challenge of business ethics — free of preachy prescriptions — from three of today's most influential psychologists. The book, based on a five-year study of multiple professions, examines the kinds of changes that would probably need to occur in business management for ethics-oriented systems to take root.

11. Flawed Advice and the Management Trap: How Managers Can Know When They're Getting Good Advice and When They're Not, by Chris Argyris, Oxford University Press USA, 2000
Chris Argyris, professor emeritus of education and organizational behavior at Harvard University, argues that most business advice given to managers by experts is impossible to execute. By becoming better judges of the limitations and value in business advice, managers can get more value from it. This book is not easy reading, but is well worth the effort.

12. The Mystery of Capitalism: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, by Hernando de Soto, Basic Books, 2000

The world-renowned Peruvian economist explains why the capitalist system has failed the poor in developing countries. He posits that the key to reform lies in the legal systems governing property ownership. His recommendations are simple but revolutionary for the development field — and they represent important new ideas for executives of multinational corporations. 

13. Living on the Faultline: Managing for Shareholder Value in the Age of the Internet, by Geoffrey A. Moore, HarperBusiness, 2000

Geoff Moore's trademark metaphor's and frameworks are not just tools for a New Economy. They force managers to focus on enduring fundamentals of business — what drives and undermines shareholder value. In particular, Moore’s Core/Context model is a critical resource to examine the relationship between value creation and human capital.

14. Power Plays: Shakespeare's Lessons in Leadership and Management, by John O. Whitney and Tina Packer, Simon and Schuster, 2000

The authors present scenes that revolve around fundamental human themes: power, communication, trust, decision making, hierarchy, and women in management. This book is an enjoyable read, and gives us a clever and memorable way to think about leadership dilemmas that executives and managers face every day in the contemporary world of business.

15. Clausewitz on Strategy: Inspiration and Insight from a Master Strategist, edited by Tiha von Ghyczy, Bolko von Oetinger, and Christopher Bassford, Jossey-Bass, 2001

It is a tribute to the durability and universality of the ideas of Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz that his famous work On War has been excerpted in this 2001 book for business readers. The authors have done a fine job of condensing Clausewitz’s massive, unfinished tome and have coupled it with an excellent commentary.

16. Inventing the Electronic Century: The Epic Story of the Consumer Electronics and Computer Industries, by Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., Free Press, 2001

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