Whatever the season, curling up with a good book — or a good e-book reader — is an appealing prospect. To encourage that process, we offer another of our special book sections covering a variety of topics and disciplines. You can learn how to better manage the identity of your company, how to create innovative products by tapping into the ‘global brain,’ and how to more accurately predict, analyze and deal with financial crises. You can also read about the ways in which prosperity has transformed America, why the debate over the corking of wine bottles has assumed near-epic proportions (for some), why it’s important to bring out your ‘inner economist,’ and how the wisdom of crowds can help your business become more profitable. We hope you enjoy the knowledge and insights these books offer.
McDonald’s operates the biggest restaurant chain in France. The company’s franchisees are French, as are their employees, and they also source their supplies from France. And yet, most people in that country regard McDonald’s as an American firm that is undermining the French way of life. That is a good example of how the question of corporate identity has become complex and confused today because of globalization, according to Hamid Bouchikhi, professor of management and entrepreneurship at ESSEC, and Wharton management professor John Kimberly. The two are authors of a new book titled, The Soul of the Corporation: How to Manage the Identity of Your Company (Wharton School Publishing). How can a company cut through this confusion and use the notion of identity as a source of competitive advantage? Kimberly answers that question and others in an interview with Knowledge at Wharton.
In their quest to harness new sources of creativity, companies are reaching beyond their R&D labs to tap individuals and organizations outside their corporate boundaries. In their new book titled, The Global Brain: Your Roadmap for Innovating Faster and Smarter in a Networked World (Wharton School Publishing), Satish Nambisan, a professor of technology management and strategy at the Lally School of Management at the Rensselaer Institute of Technology, and Mohanbir Sawhney, a professor of technology at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, explore the rise and implications of this network-centric approach to managing innovation. Nambisan spoke with India Knowledge at Wharton recently about how companies can work with outsiders to enhance their own efforts to create new products and services.
Crises have been a feature of the financial landscape for hundreds of years. They often appear with little warning, as the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2007 and the Asian crisis of 1997-1998 illustrate. It’s not always clear what causes crises, whether they can be avoided and how their impact can be reduced. A recent book, titled Understanding Financial Crises (Oxford University Press), by Wharton finance professor Franklin Allen and Douglas Gale, a professor of economics at New York University, tackles this subject from a number of different angles. The authors review the history of financial crises in addition to offering their own approach to examining the underlying causes. Allen and Gale also discuss asset price volatility, the interaction between banks and markets, bubbles and financial contagion, among other topics. Knowledge at Wharton offers an excerpt from the book.
Forty years after the Summer of Love, the 1960s are still in style. The Grateful Dead have their own ice cream flavor and young Americans are still into peace, love and pot. But what we tend to forget is that during that same summer, 18,000 people converged on Tulsa, Okla., for the formal dedication of Oral Roberts University, a ceremony that marked the success of modern evangelical Protestantism. Although we tend to see ourselves as emerging from one or the other of these histories, Brink Lindsey argues in his book, The Age of Abundance: How Prosperity Transformed America’s Politics and Culture (Collins), that we are all descendants of both. His thesis is centered on the American economy, and suggests that our country’s thriving market has become an engine for a vibrant new culture of choice and opportunity.
Anyone who has popped open a bottle of wine will agree with George Taber that it is one of the few sounds in the world that brings true joy to the listener. But if the opponents of cork have their way, that sound might disappear, as Taber, a veteran business journalist and author, explains in his new book, To Cork or Not to Cork: Tradition, Romance, Science, and the Battle for the Wine Bottle (Scribner). As Taber tells it, although cork has been used to seal virtually every bottle of wine for nearly three centuries, that dominance is now under attack by other forms of closure, including screw caps, plastic seals and glass stoppers. Taber talks with Knowledge at Wharton about the battle and his book.
Tyler Cowen wants to help you live a richer, more rewarding life — and no, he’s not an executive coach, televangelist or diet guru. Rather, he is the latest in a series of economists applying academic insights to everyday life. In his new book, Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist (Dutton Adult), Cowen, a professor of economics at George Mason University, argues that by understanding the power of incentives — rather than just the power of money — you can better accomplish your goals. In an interview with Knowledge at Wharton, Cowen talks about Adam Smith’s inner drive, why optimistic CEOs may be a bad bet, and blogging. Cowen is trying, he says, “to make economics more human.”
In We Are Smarter Than Me (Wharton School Publishing), authors Barry Libert and Jon Spector — and a community of more than 4,000 people who contributed insights to the book — illustrate how businesses can profit from the wisdom of crowds. Using case studies from product development, manufacturing, marketing, customer service, finance and management, the book, whose subtitle is How to Unleash the Power of Crowds in Your Business, shows what works, and what doesn’t, when managers try to build community into their decision making. Knowledge at Wharton excerpts parts of Chapter Two, titled “Go from R&D to R&We.”