In the 10 years of Ethix, we have reviewed close to 200 books. I have personally reviewed about half of them. My goal for this issue was to pick my 10 favorites that best characterize the primary themes in Ethix. I have failed.
Rather, I have picked 14 books in six categories that I believe best represent what we find important. Some of these are quite new, and some go back to the late 1980s.
Business has dramatically changed due to globalization enabled by technology. These three books top my list in this area. The first one is written from an Asian perspective and deals with Asian-based ethical frameworks and business challenges throughout Asia. The second one by Thomas Friedman I find better than his more famous book The World Is Flat. And the third one by Joseph Stiglitz provides the perfect counterbalance to Friedman’s enthusiastic endorsement of globalization.
Asia’s New Crisis: Renewal Through Total Ethical Management
by Frank-Jurgen Richter and Pamela C.M. Mar (2004)
The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization
by Thomas L. Friedman (1999)
Making Globalization Work
by Joseph Stiglitz (2006)
Adam Smith introduced capitalism with a moral framework in 1776 in his book Wealth of Nations. In today’s high-pressure capitalism operating at the speed of technology, we have seen numerous places where the moral constraints have been lost. These three books challenge us to rethink capitalism within a moral framework.
Good to Great
by Jim Collins (2001)
The Future of Success: Working and Living in the New Economy
by Robert B. Reich (2002)
Profit With Honor: The New Stage of Market Capitalism
by Daniel Yankelovich (2006)
Technology is the engine that is creating the change. Negroponte’s older little book still provides the best framework for thinking about technology, in my opinion. And Steve Wozniak’s autobiography gives the perfect glimpse into the mind of the technologist creating all of this change.
by Nicholas Negroponte (1995)
iWoz: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It
by Steve Wozniak, with Gina Smith (2006)
TECHNOLOGY AND BUSINESS
We often say that technology doesn’t just automate business, it transforms it. It is not quantitative change, it is qualitative change. These two books started my thinking on these issues, and provide great insight into thinking about business through the transforming lens of technology.
Reengineering the Corporation
by Michael Hammer and James Champy (1993)
The Social Life of Information
by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid (2000)
There are many great books on leadership. These two are very personal, providing insight on the practices of leadership by great leaders. They should be in the library of every leader.
Leadership Is an Art
by Max DePree (1989)
Theory R Management
by Wayne Alderson and Nancy Alderson McDonnell (1994)
Ethics is not just about avoiding failure, but focusing the mission of the organization. Nonetheless, we need to be reminded about the dramatic ethical failures of businesses, and these two books do a masterful job of providing real insight.
The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron
by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind (2003)
Final Accounting: Ambition, Greed, and the Fall of Arthur Andersen
by Barbara Ley Toffler with Jennifer Reingold (2003)