Book Reviews: Business, Finance and Economics

Beyond Budgeting: How Managers Can Break Free from the Annual Performance Trap, by Jeremy Hope and Robin Fraser, Harvard Business School Press.
The authors have identified six generic goals of organizations and find that the traditional budgeting model conflicts with every one of them. They call for a new management model that liberates people from fixed goals and centralized planning, and empowers front-line managers. The proposed approach is a performance management process based on a relative improvement contract that delivers continuous performance improvement and uses employee knowledge and judgment to adapt to changing conditions. The authors present six principles of managing with adaptive processes, several cases, and an overview of six tools. This book offers refreshing, practical guidance and ideas for invigorating organizational performance. 232 pp. 2003.

Blown to Bits: How the New Economics of Information Transforms Strategy, by Philip Evans and Thomas S. Wurster. Harvard Business School Press.
The authors find that traditional principles of strategy (competitive advantage and sustainability: the "bits") apply in the new as well as old economies, but the objects of those principles, (business units, industries, supply chains, customer relationships, organizational structure) are radically being changed by information technology since information is the primary glue that holds these objects together. The book examines how the new economics of information, marked by the ability to achieve both reach (number of people exchanging information) and richness (amount, relevance, customization, reliability, interactivity, currency and security of information), is transforming business, strategy and organization. In this new environment, insurgents have the advantage over incumbents (established businesses) because they lack legacy systems, assets and mindset. When the economics of things and information are no longer joined, radical changes occur; the book explores these changes. Extremely interesting. Highly recommended. 261 pp. 2000.

The End of Globalization: Why Global Strategy Is a Myth & How to Profit from the Realities of Regional Markets, by Alan Rugman, AMACOM.
Presents an insightful case to support his contention that the most powerful and profitable corporations think regionally and act locally. Discusses how 90 percent of foreign direct investment and more than half of world trade is concentrated in North American, the European Union, and Japan. Explores the dangers of a rigid global organization structure and overlooking local expertise. Provides guidelines for developing strategy and offers summaries of triad-based strategies. Reveal a variety of ways to respond to local customers. Recommended. 237 pp. 2001.

E-Profit: High-Payoff Strategies for Capturing the E-Commerce Edge, by Peter S. Cohan. AMACOM.
Shows how to launch a thriving on-line enterprise. Examines how e-commerce will impact all companies in terms of strategy, structure and operations. Provides a wealth of guidelines for successful e-commerce initiatives. Presents ten principles practiced by top e-commerce companies, three major pitfalls, and approaches to creating a lucrative Web site. Ideal for those engaged in designing, implementing and monitoring e-commerce startups. A general but insightful how-it is done guide for e-commerce entrepreneurs and those who work with them. Recommended. 288 pp. 2000.

Essentials of Patents, by Andy Gibbs and Bob DeMatteis. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Provides practical advice on how to leverage patents strategically. Explains the elements of a patent, how to read the parts of a patent, use the Internet to search for patents, and how to assimilate this information for practical use. Also presents the concepts of Patent Quality Management (PQM) and intellectual property and asset management system (IPAM), discusses the critical relationship of HR and patent management, the role of training, and shows how to define the role of Intellectual Capital Officer (ICO). Includes the guidelines on current patent rules. Presents an excellent, in-depth treatment of this subject. 260 pp. 2003.

Finance for Managers, by Harvard Business School Press.
A concise, highly readable introduction and overview of the fundamentals of finance for non-financial managers. Major topics include: financial statements; important accounting concepts; taxes; financing operations and growth; money and capital markets; budgeting; tools for management decisions (payback period, breakeven analysis, etc.); calculating the time value of money; valuation concepts; and activity-based budgeting. Includes a glossary, notes and further readings. A terrific resource a quick way to learn the basics of finance. 208 pp. 2003.

From.Com to.Profit: Inventing Business Models that Deliver Value and Profit, by Nick Earle and Peter G. W. Keen. Jossey-Bass.
The authors see six value imperatives for a successful business model: perfect you logistics; cultivate your long-term customer relationships; harmonize your channels on the customer's behalf; build a power brand for your business; transform your capital and cost structures; and become a value-adding intermediary, or use one. Provides guidelines, checklists, questions and examples.Recommended. 216 pp. 2000.

Harvard Business Review on Mergers and Acquisitions, Harvard Business School Press.
Outstanding articles selected from past editions of the HBR. Includes articles on planning, financial aspects, staffing, and integration. Each article begins with an executive summary. Recommended. 220 pp. 2001.

International Joint Ventures: Theory and Practice, by Aimin Yan and Yadong Luo. M. E. Sharpe, Inc.
Based on extensive research, the book is a consolidation of previous work. The volume is geared for graduate level students and professionals and reaches deeply into theory, incorporates a variety of perspectives, reports rigorously designed empirical work, and covers an entire process of joint venturing. It provides executives involved or interested in equity joint ventures with rich examples and data with systematic analysis. It presents the author's decade-long theoretical and empirical research and their consulting experience, largely from Asia, particularly in China. Draws heavily upon theories of organization, strategic management, and economics. It accounts for both the foreign and local partner's interests and perspectives. Key topics include motives, partner selection, negotiations, structure of ownership, parent control, knowledge transfer, performance assessment, and exit strategies and procedures. Excellent. 323 pp. 2000.

Patent Strategy: The Manager's Guide to Profiting from Patent Portfolios, by Anthony Miele, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Provides excellent overview and guidelines for managing a patent strategy and portfolio. Shows how to incorporate patents into your business, stages of a patent program, patent liability, implementing a program, and budgetary issues. Primary emphasis is on an in-depth, broad range discussion of legal issues. Very content rich, comprehensive, and well-organized. Highly recommended. 242 pp. 2000.

Managing by the Numbers: A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Using Your Company's Financials-An Essential Resource for Growing Businesses, by Chuck Kremer, Ron Rizzuto, and John Case. Perseus Books.
The central theme is that financial statements (balance sheet, income statement, cash flow statement) fit together; changes in one affect the others. And if the three are combined into a Financial Scoreboard, cause and effect can be traced. This enables using financial information to manage. Explains a balance sheet, an income statement, and a cash flow statement and reveals the meaning of operating cash flow, return on assets, and other measures. Lots of illustrations and examples. Good glossary. Written for the nontechnical reader. Strongly recommended. 196 pp. 2000.

The Morning After: Making Corporate Mergers Work After the Deal is Sealed, by Stephen J. Wall and Shannon Rey Wall. Perseus Press.
Profiles the best practices and warning signs that a merger is in trouble. The book covers the period from pre-merger to after the merger. Subjects covered include: what drives mergers; how acquisitions are integrated; what is involved in making the deal; what can done to smooth integration; who should be on the leadership team and how should it develop a shared vision; how to determine the optimal amount of integration; how the new organization is determined and the staffing of key roles; best communication practices during the deal and integration process; what can be done after the deal to maintain momentum and build a common culture; meeting special challenges of international mergers; and how acquisitions are used as part of the process of reinventing a company. An excellent distillation of research. 240 pp. 2000.

Power and Prosperity: Outgrowing Communist and Capitalist Dictatorships, by Mancur Olson. BasicBooks (HarperCollins).
Examines such issues as: Why do some economies perform spectacularly while others fail? How do different forms of government hinder or promote economic development and growth? With the collapse of the Soviet system, why have free markets not flourished? He proposes and explores the concept of the market-enhancing government, one that exercises enough power to create and protect property rights while exhibiting restraint to allow freedom of the individual, politically and economically. The author moves beyond the traditional debate about state vs. market in showing how to make a market economy thrive. Highly recommended. 233 pp. 2000.

Scientific Financial Management: Advances in Financial Intelligence Capabilities forCorporate Valuation and Risk Assessment (with CD-ROM), by Morton Glantz. AMACOM.
Scientific financial management bridges gaps between chaos theory and financial symmetry which is achieved through data mining, fuzzy logic, real options, pricing capital, model building, and other management tools. This is a tool kit for deploying advanced, state-of-the-art financial techniques for defining a company's strategic direction, explaining optimal strategies, and making smart defense of the shareholder value number. Through in-depth, illustrated text and a wealth of models on the accompanying CD-ROM, the book explains how to use: real options analysis; visual financial models; Monte Carlo analysis; corporate and divisional cash flow analysis; uncertainty forecast models; linear programming and stochastic optimization; interactive credit scoring models; and more. This is a very clearly presented and well organized text. Highly recommended. 420 pp. 2000.

Score! A Better Way to Do Business; Moving From Conflict to Collaboration, by Thomas T. Stallkamp. Wharton Center for Human Resources.
As we see it, this book is nothing short of a clarion call to action in the face of what will otherwise be the inevitable decline of the U.S. economy. Here's the story. In the course of running Chrysler's procurement and supply activity the author discovered a highly successful cost-containment system, SCORE (Supplier Cost Reduction Effort) that evolved into a concept called Extended Enterprise. The approach was based on collaboration with suppliers. Today, as the U.S. faces a hyper-competitive global economy which is threatening our industrial production, Stallkamp believes that the key to regaining our competitive advantage lies in a commercial system that embraces collaboration rather than continuing to cling to an adversarial approach marked by a negative and domineering relationship with suppliers that yields distrust, tension, and instability. The book explores the collaborative approach and how Chrysler employed this counter-conventional thinking. True collaboration, a genuine collaborative management philosophy, must embrace the entire firm, top to bottom. It enables companies to join together to streamline operations, reduce costs, and accelerate product development. The tools of collaboration offer the power to revitalize our mature and declining industries. 228 pp.

The State of Working America, by Lawrence Mishel, Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey, Cornell University Press.
The authors make a strong case for full employment, supported by a wealth of data providing a very comprehensive portrait of changes in income, taxes, wages, employment, poverty, and other indicators of economic performance and well being. This is an enormous wealth of information presented in tables and figures, with highly informative discussions and observations. A fascinating, detailed look at the U.S. economy. 493 pp. 2003.

Value Based Management: The Corporate Response to the Shareholder Revolution, by John D. Martin and J. William Petty, Harvard Business School Press.
The Corporate."" Value based management (VBM) is an approach to managing a company that uses various methods to enhance shareholder value. It emphasizes discounted cash flow valuation methods, investing in markets in which the firm has a competitive advantage, and using performance management and reward programs to focus employee efforts on actions that maximize returns to shareholder. The book (1) describes, in detail, the nature and origins of VBM; (2) surveys the most widely used VBM tools; (3) discusses the issue of its single period nature versus the multi-period nature of value creation; and (4) considers if VBM can be more than a tool for motivating managers to focus on under-utilized resources, rather than also achieving growth opportunities. A well-written and detailed exploration of VBM. Highly recommended. 249 pp. 2001.

What the CEO Wants You to Know : How Your Company Really Works, by Ram Charan, Crown Publishers, Random House.
What CEOs want employees to know is the basics of any business organization: cash, margin, velocity, return on investment, growth, and customers, and developing people and making groups effective. The aim is building employee business acumen and use this knowledge to be more effective as a contributor. The book closes with a checklist to ensure knowledge of a company's key challenges. A good, basic introduction to business. 140 pp. 2001.