The Book Corner - Review

The Book Corner

Featured in this issue:

The books in this issue of the Book Corner cover a wide range of topics: a “romantic business novel” about production management, a book that helps you assess your own personal strengths through an interactive web experience, a political biography and a case study on the intertwined nature of politics and economies. There is something for everyone!

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement, 2nd Edition

By Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox
North River Press, 1992

Reviewed by Professor Rick Hesse

This 20-year-old classic is actually a business “romantic novel” that involves a plant manager and his family and illustrates the basic principles of supply chain management and production. It’s a good read – fun, and yet informative. By using the analogy of Boy Scouts on a hike, the authors illustrate the “theory of constraints” – showing that it’s okay not to have every part of the plant operating at full capacity. As each production problem is fixed, another challenge arises and is met.

Dr. Goldratt found that the principles illustrated in this novel helped plant managers so much that he even quit selling the production software that he had been recommending to consulting clients because managers “got the message” when they read the book. If you haven’t read this book, read it. If you haven’t read it in a while, read it again.

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The Kimchi Matters: Global Business and Local Politics in a Crisis-Driven World

By Marvin Zonis, Dan Lefkovitz and Sam Wilkin
Agate, 2003

Reviewed by Professor Don Atwater

The Kimchi Matters is a wake up call about how economics and politics are intertwined in today’s world. This book reminds investors, policy makers, and international corporations that in a post 9-11 world understanding political economics is more important than ever. For example, the book explains why Botswana and Singapore have become stable high growth economies while Argentina and Russia have not.

The central argument of the book is simple and powerful. To do globalization right one must understand the political realities of how local political systems in individual national economies work. The authors show how the political dynamics of Botswana have supported and channeled monies from their diamond market into productive uses. Over a 35-year run Botswana’s per capita economic growth has averaged 7.7 percent. The country also has one of Africa’s most aggressive AIDS programs, since more than 25 percent of Botswana’s citizens are currently infected.

This book contains a rich mixture of country specific insights. It is an excellent reminder for economists and business managers that analyses and decisions should not disregard local political factors.

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Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power

By Lou Cannon
Public Affairs, 2003

Reviewed by Professor Larry Bumgardner

Under any circumstances, a study of Ronald Reagan’s years as governor of California could offer both interesting history and significant insights into Reagan’s growth into the presidency. This book by Lou Cannon, the former Washington Post reporter and preeminent Reagan biographer, fulfills that promise by presenting a thoroughly researched, fascinating look at Governor Reagan and a nearly forgotten era of turmoil in California politics. Yet, the work gained even greater significance through a remarkable coincidence — that it was published only a few weeks before another actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, followed Reagan’s path and was elected California’s governor in 2003. As a result, the book could also be a useful reference for governing California today.

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Now, Discover Your Strengths

By Marcus Buckingham & Donald Clifton
The Free Press, 2001

Reviewed by Mary Conradt, Director of Academic Affairs

Now, Discover Your Strengths introduces the concept that one’s strengths are formed by a combination of: talents (one’s naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior); knowledge (the facts and lessons learned); and skill (the steps of activity). Clifton, named as the father of “strengths psychology” by the American Psychological Association, suggests that only through enhancing strengths will true success be achieved.

Not only does the book explain the concepts and how they apply, but the reader is also given the opportunity to complete a personal Strengths Finder Assessment Instrument. The assessment instrument is available through the Gallup Organization website, and the book provides the reader with a password that allows him or her to register to complete it. Upon completion of the assessment, the Gallup Organization will email the participant a list of his or her top five signature strengths out of the thirty-four themes listed in the instrument.

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