The summer holidays are the perfect time to recharge your batteries, relax and refresh your mind by catching up on some great reading. For a few books to pack in your carry-on – look no further. HEC Paris MBA professors have some engaging recommendations for you, both in and out of the realm of business.
The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth (2004)
Recommended by Goncalo Pacheco de Almeida, Associate Professor of Strategy and Business Policy,
and by Jeremy Ghez, Affiliate Professor of Economics and International Affairs
Professor Pacheco de Almeida says: “This brilliantly written novel takes the reader back to the Presidential elections of 1940 in the United States. Through an ensuing series of hypothetical – yet credible – set of socio-political events with historical figures the reader learns some fascinating and frightening lessons about human nature and the fragility of democratic institutions. Published in 2004, it shows an eerie premonition of the recent 2016 Presidential elections and the current state of affairs in international political relations.
Professor Ghez says: “This book is a powerful reminder of how fiction can help us better understand the present and enlighten us about possible alternatives and solutions. Roth gives us the opportunity to explore an alternate universe — and ultimately wake up.”
Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman (2011)
Recommended by Anne-Laure Sellier, Associate Professor of Marketing
Professor Sellier says: “Thinking Fast and Slow goes over the systematic deviations from rational thinking observed in human thinking. [In business] we tend to overestimate our own ability to behave rationally, particularly when under the pressure to make decisions fast. In this book, you fully appreciate how, even in the presence of the best data and experts possible, you may easily be led to make suboptimal, and sometimes terrible, decisions. Daniel Kahneman writes extremely well and clearly, which makes this book a relatively easy read. I say “relatively” because it is one rich source of knowledge. So, read on, and then reread again by bits when being confronted with situations reminding you of certain biases, whether in business or in your personal life.”
Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible, by William Goetzmann (2016)
Recommended by Christophe Spaenjers, Associate Professor of Finance
Professor Spaenjers says: “William Goetzmann is a finance professor at the Yale School of Management (and a co-author of mine). The book delves into the history of financial markets and instruments –from Ancient Mesopotamia to Wall Street –and illustrates how finance has often been a force for the good. It also shows how in finance (as in other fields), it can be useful to look back and study which innovations worked (or not), and why. History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes!
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, by Adam Grant (2016)
Recommended by Mathis Schulte, Associate Professor of Management and Human Resources
Professor Schulte says: “As any business –or business school –will tell you, originality and creativity are the keys to success in a fast-moving and complex world. Yet, organizations struggle to foster originality. As we know from research, original people have a hard time to be heard and are pushed to the periphery of social networks. Adam takes a refreshing look at the topic, and his stories and examples are inspiring to all of us to champion new ideas and go against the grain.”
Cracked It! How To Solve Big Problems And Sell Solutions Like Top Strategy Consultants, by Bernard Garrette, Corey Phelps and Olivier Sibony (2018)
Recommended by Bernard Garrette, Professor of Strategy and Business Policy and former Associate Dean of HEC Paris MBA
Professor Garrette says: “Research consistently shows that complex problem solving is crucial. For most of us, however, solving difficult problems and selling the solutions doesn’t come naturally and we haven’t been taught how to do it well. And when we try, studies show a host of pitfalls trip us up. In Cracked It!, we reveal how to overcome these obstacles and become better problem solvers and solution sellers using a rigorous, practical and proven four-step approach. With numerous case studies, this book will help you hone your skills in advanced content in strategy consulting, analytical thinking and design thinking.”
Debt: The First 5000 Years, by David Graeber (2011)
Recommended by Afshin Mehrpouya, Associate Professor of Accounting and Management Control
Professor Mehrpouya says: “Various forms of debt play a central role in influencing personal, organizational and national economic, social and political identities and behavior. This book provides an effective analysis of the changing relation between debt and morality over time. It is quite impressive in its breadth and depth of analysis. It details the rise of debt and the changing role of debt in Western societies over the past many centuries. I think it is a very insightful, important and pleasant read.”