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Best Business Books 2003

(originally published by Booz & Company)

As Francis Bacon once said, “some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” Thus, we welcome you to strategy+business’s big buffet — our annual survey of the best business books published since last fall.

We’ve noted before that the books that are published say a great deal about the times in which we live. The 2002-2003 crop of business books confirms what businesspeople already know: Times remain tough, and more than a little unsettling. Many of this year’s best books are about the basics of coping with complexity and uncertainty: devising a successful growth strategy, encouraging innovation, building managerial effectiveness, creating an execution-focused organization. Others provide insights into recent, and troubling, events and trends: corporate scandals, a questing work force’s changing values, turmoil in the Third World.

Our list of the best business books is both eclectic and subjective. We ask our critics — all of them influential business thought leaders — to seek out works that either make substantive contributions to the body of business knowledge, or bring to business provocative insights from other fields. In the first category is Louis V. Gerstner Jr.’s Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?, which our reviewers consider one of the best books on leadership ever written by a business executive. In the latter is One World: The Ethics of Globalization, by the philosopher Peter Singer, a challenge to the way citizens of rich nations think about their responsibilities in a world that’s still mostly poor.

Enjoy the brain food that follows. We hope you’ll agree that the books reviewed in the following nine essays provide real nourishment.

Strategy’s New Value Proposition
by Chuck Lucier and Jan Dyer
Weapons of Managerial Destruction
by David K. Hurst
The High Art of Business
by Randy Komisar
  Corporate Scandals
No Simple Tales of Thievery
by Rob Walker
What the Rich and Free Owe the Poor and Oppressed
by Sylvia Nasar
The Needs of the Followers
by Bruce A. Pasternack and James O’Toole
Managing the Me Generation
by Kate Jennings
  Human Capital
Business as Baseball
by Charles Handy
Business History
Have You Read about Ford Lately?
by Rob Norton

s+b's Top Shelf

Best Business Books 2003, Classics Recalled

Reprint No. 03408

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