The final word on business

Helena Pozniak asks school luminaries to name inspiring works of literature

 

Mark Thomas, Associate dean and director of international affairs, Grenoble Ecole de Management

Thinking Fast and Slow (Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman)

"A delight to read. Like most truly brilliant scholars, Kahneman has the intelligence to make it simple for the rest of us. The book explains why managers can become overconfident in their ability to make judgments and to predict the future. It also gives excellent advice for more efficient management."

Dr Mark de Rond, Reader in strategy and organisation, Cambridge Judge Business School

War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy), Don Quixote (Cervantes), The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)

"I personally feel our students would learn far more about human nature – its inherent paradoxes and great conflicts of life – from such classics, as well as such different non-fiction as Isaiah Berlin's The Hedgehog and the Fox and Anthony Loyd's My War Gone By, I Miss It So. Hugely powerful, these works provide the depth of reflection, discomfort, and insight into what it is to be human in the context of others, that business books can only dream of."

Professor Rodolphe Durand, HEC Paris,

Build, Borrow, or Buy (Laurence Capron, Will Mitchell)

"This is not just another compilation of tips and tricks about how to manage the growth of your company. Its framework, the 'resource pathways', raises the exact questions you need to ask yourself when faced with strategic choices. The book contains the perfect balance between up-to-date examples and cogent analyses based on in-depth studies. It's a must-read before committing your firm to major investments, alliances, or acquisitions."

Professor Amir Sharif, Director of  MBA Programmes Brunel Business School

The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organisations are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World (Peter Senge)

"This book gets you to think – and I mean really think – about a sustainable future that could be made to happen now, if only we were to take on the experiences of others who have made sustainability in business happen already. This book takes us from the ideals of sustainability, corporate environmentalism and altruism into the reality of making real differences happen around us. Although this book is about thinking, it's actually more about putting that into doing."

Mike Malmgren, Programme director, Ashridge Business School

Strategy Safari (Henry Mintzberg)

"There is no single answer to strategic questions, hence multiple perspectives strengthen the decision- taking process. In short, strategy formulation needs an industry and market perspective; a resource-based view of core competencies; and an appreciation of the fast-hanging business environment that emerges as more information becomes visible. Mintzberg's Strategy Safari offers an excellent overview of different perspectives that can be applied in strategy formulation."

Stephan Chambers, Director of the MBA Saïd Business School

The Elements of Style (William Strunk Jr and E B White)

"It is not so much 'inspirational' but 'essential'. First published in 1959, it's very short, it's very clear, and it's still relevant. It will help students, and the business leaders they wish to become, say what they mean and mean what they say, on investments, alliances, or acquisitions."

Dr Pegram Harrison, Fellow in entrepreneurship, Saïd Business School

The New Business Road Test and Getting to Plan B (both by John Mullins)

"Both offer very accessible ways of thinking about being entrepreneurial in a wide variety of contexts. The New Business Road Test separates the entrepreneurial sheep from the pie-in-the-sky goats, with a very helpful system for determining whether a business idea is truly feasible. Getting to Plan B [co-author Randy Komisar] emphasises that Plan A is never as good as it could be, and demonstrates how to sharpen it up. I've seen both books inspire many students, and lead to many successful ventures that might not have got off the ground otherwise."

Dr Pamela Hartigan, Director, Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Saïd Business School

Lucky or Smart? Secrets to an Entrepreneurial Life (Bo Peabody)

"I have rarely read a book that so brilliantly describes the entrepreneurial experience, the ups, the downs, and the 'calculated serendipity' of it all. Some of Peabody's insights are priceless; for example, how actually mismatched the venture capital worlds and the entrepreneurial worlds are. And how to deal with constant rejections without letting it get you down – a gem of a book in 85 pages."

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