Academic journal article Journal of Competitiveness Studies

The International Business Book Explosion

Academic journal article Journal of Competitiveness Studies

The International Business Book Explosion

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Recent years have witnessed a geometric increase in the number of books published on international business themes. What used to be an oddity has become a common topic, with subtopics like practicing management, education for international business, crosscultural communication, ethics, technology transfer, industry studies, area studies, and country studies. Greenwood and Haworth have been prominent among English-language publishers of these books.

Whereas the Library of Congress National Union Catalog [NUC] Pre-1956 Imprints contained just 13 listings of books on international business, by the mid-1970s, the 1973-1977 NUC supplement contained 16 listings. Now, far more books are published on the topic in a single year. This article confines its discussion to books on international business themes published in 1995 or later, possessing sufficient quality to merit commentary, and not reviewed elsewhere in IJCM. For review purposes, these books may be categorized under the headings of practicing management, education for international business, crosscultural communication, ethics, technology transfer, industry studies, area studies, and country studies.

PRACTICING MANAGEMENT

Practicing management is the genre that probably appeals most readily to on-the-job managers. One such text is Michael H. Shenkman's Strategic Heart: Using the New Science to Lead Growing Organizations (1996). Part I elaborates Shenkman's ideas on "complexity," which he defines as "a style of thinking that has as its premise that matter, even at its most primary and irreducible level, is predisposed, under certain circumstances, to combine with other particles and organize into entities that have greater complexity" (p. xv). He rejects views that business is or should be primarily rational, military, mechanical, ruthless, or opportunistic; rather, in a successful organization, workers put their hearts into important missions. Part II discusses complexity's corollary, "flow" which emphasizes the lure of challenge and the joy of growth. Shenkman's work fits squarely into the tradition of humanitarian management theorists, but what distinguishes Shenkman is his involvement with practicing managers. Although Shenkman's ideas may be difficult to implement in some nonWestern situations, his is not a strictly American book since his interest is in affecting the pliable hearts of younger workers, irrespective of their culture. This book is of interest to both business practitioners and academicians.

In Insight Edge: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Evolutionary Management, Ervin Laszlo and Christopher Laszlo (1997) use analogies of navigating and living to emphasize the unprecedented challenges facing contemporary managers. Navigating has become a challenge in a global sea which changes daily in unpredictable and predatory ways; living has increasingly come to mean living up to responsibilities to society and nature. Two main sections make up the book--"New Thinking for a New World" and "An Insightful Basis for Action." The first section presents a concept which Laszlo and Laszlo term the "Evolutionary Gigatrend" or EGT. Giga means "giant," and Laszlo and Laszlo aver that their concept goes far beyond the "megatrends" (mega means "great") of John Naisbitt. The drivers in the EGT are technological change and innovation, complexity and convergence, and bifurcation and chaos. What stands out about The Insight Edge is its eclecticism. Laszlo and Laszlo are Europeans who have significant experience in the United States and who are inherently internationalists in vision.

Mark P. Rice is director of one of the world's premier business incubators, the Center for Entrepreneurship of New Technological Ventures at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Jane B. Matthews of the Kauffman Foundation has joined him in writing Growing New Ventures, Creating New Jobs: Principles & Practices of Successful Business Incubation. …

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