The Book Corner - Review
2003 Volume 6 Issue 4

The Book Corner

Featured in this issue:

Welcome to a new feature for GBR. From time to time, faculty members from the Graziadio School of Business and Management will share the titles of books that they believe will be of interest to GBR readers. In this issue strategy professor Karen Schnietz suggests three books, and professor of economics, Donald Atwater, suggests a fourth. GBR suggests that you check them out. We would be very interested in your feedback on this new feature.

The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism

By Russell Roberts
Prentice-Hall, 2001

Reviewed by Dr. Karen Schnietz

This book is for any manager who has ever been confused by the contradicting rhetoric surrounding the costs and benefits of free trade and protectionism. This quick and lively read, written by a professor at Washington University, puts international trade theory into laymen’s terms. It also sheds valuable light on some of the recent sources of political opposition to continued global trade and investment liberalization that have impeded recent WTO talks in Seattle and Cancun, as well as World Bank and IMF talks in multiple locations. Furthermore, it’s a favorite among students, too.

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Co-opetition: A Revolutionary Mindset that Alters Cooperation and Competition

By Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff
Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1996

Reviewed by Dr. Karen Schnietz

The recent hit film “A Beautiful Mind” shed light on the obscure art of game theory, a branch of economics pioneered by John Nash. Although game theory has had enormous impact on economic and management theory and academics, its impact has been largely unknown to business managers due to its highly technical and mathematical nature. Brandenburger and Nalebuff, two Harvard Business School professors, summarize the many managerial insights of game theory in this valuable book. It is particularly useful for executives grappling with merger, joint venture, and organizational change issues, in which cooperation is critical for long term success, but often elusive.

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The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action

By Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton
Harvard Business Press, 2000

Reviewed by Dr. Karen Schnietz

Handsomely-bound strategic plans are a dime a dozen, but successfully implemented ones are rare. Similarly, many managers and executives know what they should do to achieve better employee and firm performance, but seem stymied when it comes to execution and action. Why is there such a big disconnect between many firms’ strategic knowledge and their actions? This book, written by two of Stanford University’s foremost organizational behavior scholars, is invaluable for any manager who has ever struggled with strategy implementation.

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Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround

By Lou Gertsner, Jr.
Harper Business, 2002

Reviewed by Dr. Donald Atwater

I find that books written by MBAs who become successful CEOs contain substantive food for thought. Lou Gertsner’s book is no exception. Three principles that he poses were particularly interesting: 1) It’s the collective capacity of the people in a company that creates value; 2) The last thing companies in transition need is a vision; and 3) Truly great strategies are believable and executable. I suggest you read this book to prepare a mental meal of your own beginning with a tasting of Gertsner’s recipe at IBM.

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Ethics / Corporate Social Responsibility