Business Standard

Business book of the year

Strategist Team  |  New Delhi 

Amid the plethora of business books published every year, a small number stand out for their originality of thought, quality of writing and accessibility of content.
Financial Times and Goldman Sachs have come up with the inaugural Award, which aims to be the definitive guide to what's worth reading. Six finalists have been named for the £30,000 award, which will be presented in London on November 21.
The judging panel includes Andrew Gowers, editor, Financial Times; Lloyd C Blankfein, president, Goldman Sachs; N R Narayana Murthy, chairman and chief mentor, Infosys Technologies; and Martin Sorrell, chief executive, WPP.
Here are brief synopses of the books chosen. Which one would you pick?

When scholars write the history of the world 20 years from now, and they come to the chapter "Y2K to March 2004," what will they say was the most crucial development? The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Iraq war? Or the convergence of technology and events that allowed India, China and so many other countries to become part of the global supply chain for services and manufacturing?
Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman demystifies the brave new world for readers, allowing them to make sense of the often bewildering global scene unfolding before their eyes.
With his inimitable ability to translate complex foreign policy and economic issues, Friedman explains how the flattening of the world happened at the dawn of the 21st century; what it means to countries, companies, communities, and individuals; and how governments and societies can, and must, adapt.
by Steven D Levitt and J Dubner
Which is more dangerous: a gun or a swimming pool? What do school-teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their mothers? These aren't questions economists typically ask, but Steven D Levitt is not a typical economist.
He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the stuff and riddles of everyday life "" from cheating and crime to sports and child rearing "" and whose conclusions regularly turn conventional wisdom on its head. He usually begins with a mountain of data and a simple, unasked question.
Some of these questions concern life-and-death issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and co-author J Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives "" how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freakonomics, they set out to explore the hidden side of ... well, everything.
The Travels of a T-Shirt in the global economy
Go on a fascinating, around-the-world journey to understand the economic and political lessons from the life story of a simple T-shirt. Over five years, business professor travelled from a Texas cotton field to a Chinese factory to a used clothing market in Africa, to investigate compelling questions about the politics, economics, ethics, and history of modern business and globalisation.
Using the story of the T-shirt to illustrate the major issues of the globalisation debate, this uniquely entertaining business book offers a surprising, enlightening, and balanced look at one of the major topics of our time.
When You Wish Upon a Star, Whistle While You Work, The Happiest Place on Earth "" these are lyrics indelibly linked to Disney, one of the most admired and best-known companies in the world. So when Roy Disney, chairman of Walt Disney Animation and nephew of founder Walt Disney, abruptly resigned in November 2003 and declared war on chairman and chief executive Michael Eisner, he sent shock waves through the entertainment industry.
is the breathtaking, dramatic inside story of what drove America's best-known entertainment company to civil war, told by an acclaimed writer and reporter.
Drawing on unprecedented access to both Eisner and Roy Disney, current and former Disney executives and board members, as well as thousands of pages of never-before-seen letters, memos, transcripts, and other documents, gets to the bottom of mysteries that have enveloped Disney for years.
The Search
What does the world want? According to John Battelle, a company that answers that question "" in all its shades of meaning "" can unlock the most intractable riddles of both business and culture. And for the past few years, that's exactly what Google has been doing.
The Search offers much more than the inside story of Google's triumph. It's also a big-picture book about the past, present and future of search technology, and the enormous impact it is starting to have on just about every other sphere of human interest.
More than any of its rivals, Google has become the gateway to instant knowledge. Hundreds of millions of people use it to satisfy their wants, needs, fears and obsessions, creating an enormous artefact that Battelle calls "the Database of Intentions."
For anyone who wants to understand how Google really succeeded "" and the implications of a world in which every click can be preserved forever "" The Search is an eye-opening and indispensable read.
Fast Second
by Constantinos C Markides and Paul Geroski
Discover why being a "fast second" is often more financially rewarding than being at the cutting edge.
If you get there first, you'll lead the pack, right? Not necessarily! The skill-sets of most established companies, say strategy experts Constantinos Markides and Paul Geroski, are far better suited to scaling up newly created markets pioneered by others (in other words, being "fast seconds") than to creating these markets from scratch.
In Fast Second, they explore the characteristics of new markets, describe the skills needed to create and compete in them, and show how these skills match up with different types of companies.
Drawing on examples of successful fast-second firms such as Microsoft, Amazon, Heinz, and many others, they illustrate how to determine which new markets have the potential to be successful and how to move into them before the competition does, when to make a move into a new market, how to scale up a market, where to position a company, and whether to be a coloniser or a consolidator.

First Published: Tue, October 11 2005. 00:00 IST