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Seven books business professors think you should read

Aug 6, 2014

Summer -reading

We asked Ivey professors, “What’s the best book for a business student to spend the remaining weeks of the summer reading?” We received some great suggestions. Take a look.


Passion Capital: The World's Most Valuable Asset by Paul Alofs

Passion Capital came to Professor Glenn Rowe’s mind immediately when we asked what book business students should read. Published in 2012, Alofs’s inspiring book shares more than 50stories from business, politics, and not-for-profit to demonstrate the importance of “the world’s most valuable asset:” passion. Alofs has previously worked at HMV, Disney, and, before becoming President and CEO of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation in 2003.


Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis

Economics and Public Policy Professor Mike Moffatt suggests reading Moneyball for the management strategy, despite the book’s focus on professional baseball and not dodgeball (Moffatt is the coach of the gold medal-winning Team Canada)

“It may look like a baseball story, but Moneyball is one of the best management texts you will ever read. Any organization has finite resources at its disposal; Lewis examines how the low-budget Oakland Athletics’ understanding of opportunity cost made it a winner. Although the Brad Pitt movie is fantastic, it is no substitute for the book!”


The Rebel Sell by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter

Strategy Professor JP Vergne, author of The Pirate Organization: Lessons from the Fringes of Capitalism, picked out The Rebel Sell for business students. Here’s why:

“You’re often told that capitalist economies are based on competition between business organizations. Well, there’s more to it: Capitalism is also very much about competition between consumers, and sometimes, it’s just enough for business organizations to leverage pre-existing patterns of competitive consumption to make a profit. By exploring the sociological underpinnings of conformity and counterculture, this book delves deep into what contemporary capitalism is about.

“Plus, it’s fun, accessible, and written by two Canadians – not bad eh?”


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Named the #1 Business Book in 2012 by FastCompany, Quiet also comes highly recommended from Professor Tima Bansal, Director of the Building Sustainable Value Research Centre.

“This book is not about business. It's about introversion. In business and in business schools, we celebrate extroverts. It's nice to finally read about the value of introverts in business,” said Bansal.

“And, yes, I am an introvert.” 


Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

Marketing Professor Matthew Thomson recommends business students check out this thought-provoking examination of people’s irrational behaviour.

From Publisher’s Weekly: “Drawing on psychology and economics, behavioral economics can show us why cautious people make poor decisions about sex when aroused, why patients get greater relief from a more expensive drug over its cheaper counterpart and why honest people may steal office supplies or communal food, but not money.”


Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others by Andrew Sobel

Communications lecturer Jana Seijts teaches, consults, and writes cases about communication challenges in the business world. She suggests a number of books to students, including Power Questions.

Andrew Sobel offers readers 337 essential questions to “help you succeed in work and in life.” The book spells out ways to navigate professional challenges, influence others, and get ahead in your career by using strategic questioning.


Getting To Yes:  Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury

First published in 1981, this is the classic book that Professor Ann Frost has all of her students in negotiations courses read. “But everyone should read it,” she says.

“It introduces the concept of interest-based bargaining. What this means is that what people often ask for is not REALLY what they need. Often time, you can find a way to give them what they really actually NEED, a lot more easily than giving them what they say they want. The classic illustration is two sisters fighting over the last orange in the fridge. They both want it. But it turns out one wants the juice for something, the other sister wants the rind for putting in a cake. Voila! They can share the orange!”

Interested in reading any of these recommendations? Check them out in the library!