In our summertime book report, we offer a podcast with Harold Evans — former editor of The Sunday Times of London and, until recently, an editor and publisher for various media groups in the U.S. — in which he discusses his career, his latest book and the future of print in the new digital age. We also talked with author Kevin Salwen and his daughter Hannah about their book chronicling the family’s decision to share money and time with The Hunger Project in Ghana. Another book report details the attempts by various chocolate manufacturers — ranging from Hershey, Nestle and Cadbury to Mars and Ferro Rocher — to sell their chocolate to consumers in China, while a book by surgeon/journalist Atul Gawande shows just how effective checklists can be in reducing the damage caused by human fallibility. We have a podcast with Wharton finance professor Franklin Allen about his new book on financial innovation and its historical role as an engine of growth, and last but not least, a podcast with oenophile George Taber, who visited a dozen of the most beautiful wine regions around the globe and lived to tell the story.
For more than 40 years, Harold Evans has been a giant figure in the world of print on both sides of the Atlantic. Starting out as a 16-year-old cub reporter in the north of England, Evans was still in his late 30s when he was named editor of The Sunday Times of London in 1967 for what turned out to be a 14-year reign. In 1984, he moved to the United States, taking top jobs in magazines and book publishing before deciding to concentrate on writing books. Knowledge at Whartonspoke recently with Evans about his latest book, My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times, and about print’s rich past and uncertain future in the new digital age.
The Salwen family decided that charity begins at home in a big way. They sold their home, moved into a house worth half the value and donated the rest of the sales price to The Hunger Project and its work to end poverty in Ghana. Then they captured that simple but astonishing saga in The Power of Half: One Family’s Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back, a book that is challenging a growing number of readers to find their own ways to share what they have with others and at the same time draw closer as a family. Stewart Friedman, a Wharton management professor and director of the school’s Work/Life Integration Project, talked recently with Kevin Salwen and his daughter, Hannah, a high school junior, about their story of downsizing with a difference.
In Chocolate Fortunes: The Battle for the Hearts, Minds, and Wallets of China’s Consumers, Lawrence L. Allen tells the story of how Hershey, Nestle, Cadbury, Mars and Ferrero Rocher each fought to corner China’s vast potential chocolate market. A former executive for Hershey and Nestle, Allen documents just how hard that task turned out to be, not only because of the Chinese population’s unfamiliarity with chocolate, but also due to strategic and managerial mistakes made by the companies in their rush to global expansion.
Errors and omissions of the most ordinary and preventable kind kill thousands of patients every year in hospitals throughout the developed and developing worlds. A simple solution exists to this problem, argues Atul Gawande in his most recent book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. A surgeon and a journalist, Gawande shows just how effective checklists can be to reduce the damage caused by human fallibility in industries including medicine, construction, aviation and others where the work environment depends on complicated processes, technology and equipment. So why aren’t checklists used in every operating room and ICU? The answer is simple: In the existing medical establishment, too many doctors don’t like to be told what to do. Add one more box to the checklist — the need for cultural change.
The Great Recession has given a black eye to the tools of financial innovation. Collateralized debt obligations, synthetic derivatives and other once-arcane investment vehicles are now the poster boys of what went wrong — toxic players in the boom-and-doom scenario of the housing implosion and market rout. But these highly opaque and complex instruments are not representative of real financial innovation, which stresses transparency and responsible management of risk, argues Wharton finance professor Franklin Allen in his new book, Financing the Future: Market-Based Innovations for Growth, co-written with Glenn Yago, executive director of financial research at the Milken Institute. Financial innovation, properly used, has been the engine of growth through the centuries, Allen says, and is especially needed now to get the world economy on track again.
In the book, In Search of Bacchus: Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism, author George M. Taber took on the task (someone had to do it) of visiting a dozen of the most breathtakingly beautiful wine regions around the globe. What he came back with is a travel guide for oenophiles that also serves as a primer on how and why winemakers are increasingly turning themselves into destination sites. In addition, Taber’s tour opens a window on the growing segmentation of the travel industry as a whole and offers lessons about competitive advantage and marketing that apply to all consumer-driven businesses.