Bookshelf | May / June 2015

A collection of reviewed books from the May / June 2015 print issue.


Do you feel “frazzled, frantic, and feckless”? Do you blame the constant onslaught of new information or the incessant lure of your electronic devices? Physician Edward Hallowell calls this “attention deficit trait” (ADT), and he believes it’s exacerbated by the modern always-on work environment. He identifies six workplace distractions—including addiction to electronics, multitasking, and hopping from idea to idea—and offers practical suggestions for people who want to regain control of their lives. Many workers will recognize themselves in Hallowell’s descriptions and will be game to try his solutions. (Harvard Business Review Press, US$26)


We’re all guilty of making snap judgments, relying on first impressions, and assuming that other people feel just like we do. We don’t always realize that others—including our bosses, our employees, and our clients—are assessing us by the same metrics. “Without the ability to consistently and accurately telegraph our thoughts and intentions to others, none of us can succeed—no individual, no team, and no organization,” writes Heidi Grant Halvorson of Columbia Business School. “Communication is vital, but the great irony is that human beings have a surprisingly difficult time when it comes to knowing what exactly they are communicating.” She offers tools that help every reader show others who they truly are. Interesting, informative, and genuinely useful. (Harvard Business Review Press, US$22)


Georgetown’s Pietra Rivoli adds a preface and epilogue to this updated second edition of her classic look at international trade, as told through the story of a souvenir T-shirt purchased in Florida. The writing is lively, the insights wide-ranging, and Rivoli herself a perfect tour guide. As she unravels the nuanced tale of her T-shirt, she finds herself unable to be blindly pro-globalization or hotly anti-free market. But she does think balance is possible: “As market forces push apparel production to lower and lower wage locations, forces of conscience and politics push back in the cause of safety, higher wages, and worker rights.” (Wiley, US$20)


In 2013, fewer than one-fifth of Fortune 500 companies had 25 percent or more women directors, while one-tenth had no women at all serving on their boards. That’s one of the stats offered up by Nancy Calderon of KPMG and Susan Schiffer Stautberg, co-chair of WomenCorporateDirectors. They offer a series of interviews with corporate heavyweights, such as Campbell’s former CEO Doug Conant, about why diversity is so essential for boards; they also provide dozens of quotes from top women executives. “Diversity brings new, relevant perspectives to the decision-making process,” they write. It’s both a battle cry and an inspirational manifesto. (WomenCorporateDirectors, US$22.95)


What is the role of faculty in the governance of a university? William Bowen and Eugene Tobin of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation are quite clear that “faculty can either encourage…the wise exercise of leadership by others or, conversely, throw limitless amounts of sand in the wheels.” They know that some of their conclusions will be unpalatable: They believe schools will need to look at tradeoffs between costs and quality; consider changing the organizational structure from a vertical to a horizontal one; and acknowledge the fragmentation of faculty and the stratification of schools. As lines between content, technology, and pedagogy blur, they write, “carefully considered arrangements for even broader sharing of perspectives, cutting across departmental lines, have become more, not less, essential.” Timely and topical. (ITHAKA and Princeton University Press, US$29.95)


Having now been in existence for more than 20 years, The PhD Project feels like a powerful institution whose formation seems almost inevitable. Here, writer Ned Steele paints an entirely different picture of a group of unconnected individuals all striving, in their own ways, to determine how to increase the pipeline of minorities in business doctoral programs. A great read for any student who’s ever felt alone or any administrator looking to convince the next minority doctoral candidate that the long academic investment will pay off. (The PhD Project, US$14.99)