Tag Archive for book review

“Why Can Dead Do Such Great Things?” – by Robert Bartlett – a Book Review

 Christmas is near – less than two weeks to go. And I think there comes no better time of the year to meditate about the sacred things – what makes us believe in God, what drives us ahead, why we are here. It is not that we should be more religious then we are. In the heat of our daily lives, when we run for better career prospects, increased ROIs, higher incomes, we tend to forget that other things are important.

So I decided to read laterally and do several different book reviews. The first one relates to a book called “Why Can Dead Do Such Great Things? – Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation”, by Robert Bartlett. You can hardly find a tome better suited to the Christmas period, I guess. First of all, it is a book about one of the most distinct features of the Christian religion – the veneration of saints. Secondly, “Why Can Dead Do Such Great Things?” is an academic book – it approaches the subject from a research angle. Thirdly – the book is quite impressive in appearance in writing – more on this below J. Read more

First Task to Accomplish on Monday Morning

Imagine it is 09:00 AM on a Monday morning. You just landed in your office, supercharged by the Bucks or Republic or another brand coffee. You already had two phone calls with a customer (internal or external). Your task waiting list is longer than the Bible’s first chapter and you do not (want to) know where to begin. So what do you do?
It might look as a joke, but you might start by reading a chapter of a professional book. Research shows that you become 1-2% smarter with every book you read. Your synapses get fired up, your brain starts working and warming up, you get smarter. So why not?

Light Financial Books – “A Beginner’s Guide to Investing: How to Grow Your Money the Smart and Easy Way” – A Book Review

“A Beginner’s Guide to Investing: How to Grow Your Money the Smart and Easy Way” seems like a long title for a book that pretends to be simple and quick to understand. Yet, the title of this investment book might just reflect the reality. Have a look at the financial investments books that are on the market – most of them are either too complicated (take for example Tirole’s “Theory of Corporate Finance“, where lots of financial maths are involved), either too vague (for example Fisher’s “The Only Three Questions You Need to Ask“). Starting from this point, the authors of “Beginner’s Guide to Investing” (Alex Frey and Ivy Bites) thought to create an accessible investing guide, without many frills and with essential data within. Read more

Book Review: “International Management – Culture, Strategy and Behavior” – by Fred Luthans and Jonathan Doh

Some books are great, some books are fantastic, and some are at the average. Some are really bad and some are really outstanding. For me, “International Management – Culture, Strategy and Behavior” is neither of these – but just a bit above average.

Do not get me wrong. A book on international business focused on organizational management/human resources is a new focus. In the current world, where we trade continuously across the borders, we forget very often that the most important thing to do is probably to interact efficiently with our foreign counterparts. Yet, “International Management – Culture, Strategy and Behavior” is not exactly my type of book…

…Which still means that this is a nice study text. There are very few books focused on the cultural interactions at a global level. Read more

Book Review – “Investment Performance Measurement – Evaluating and Presenting Results” by Philip Lawton and Todd Jankowski (editors)

Here’s the handbook for the professional investment manager or for those who want to have in their libraries a reference volume: “Investment Performance Measurement – Evaluating and Presenting Results” not only contains almost 1,000 pages of technical articles, but it is also nicely organized.
In a sense, “Investment Performance Measurement – Evaluating and Presenting Results” represents a complete reference for the CFA (“Chartered Financial Analyst”) who wants to keep in touch with some technical issues. The book contains 5 parts, which take you from the introductions to the portfolio and risk management theories to the latest developments in the field (part 5 is named “Global Investment Performance Standard”, a right adagio for the cross-continental savvy manager).
It is hard for me to start somewhere with this review – and this is because of the content richness. “Investment Performance Measurement – Evaluating and Presenting Results” contains lots of articles on investments performance, some of them very mathematical, others very behavioral and others … well, unusual.
A very mathematical chapter (yet a very interesting one) is called “On the Performance of the Hedge Funds”, which combines a mathematical approach with a risk methodology in order to give the reader a better view on how to approach a fund. It is not easy, since a hedge fund tries to balance actually the risks inherent in the portfolio with a need for strong and constant returns. The fact that few hedge funds manage to have a constant performance over the long term just lays the nature of the game. Yet, when you invest lots of money in such a vehicle, I think you should at least try to understand its composition and the formula to calculate the average returns on the fund (or the yield of it). But the authors of the article go beyond this – they actually run a regression to see if the various fees paid to the mangers have an impact on the performance. Guess what – yes they have an effect and it is quite substantial – for the rest of the details I will just let you read the article itself. Read more

Book review on “Human Resource Management”, 2nd Edition by Greg L. Stewart (University of Iowa), Kenneth G. Brown (University of Iowa)

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There are rare cases where you see a study text on HR management linking so well the strategic theory with the day to day practice – and the accent here falls on strategic. Furthermore, the human resources management seems to be relatively neglected in the companies, although many experts argue that now, when the end of crisis is approaching, it should be more important. Not only should HR managers increase their focus on how to motivate better the battered employees, but also they should face the challenge of retaining the so much needed valuable assets – the ones who walk out of the door every day.
One more trigger for my reading “Human Resource Management” is my own experience (as I mentioned several times on the investing blog). Book reviews should bring in something tangible for the reader – and for me it provided a link with my experience. Specifically, at certain moments of time all of us find themselves managing other people – be it our subordinates or bosses from the same company, our employees in our entrepreneurial endeavors, or other stakeholders. At the end of the day, what counts is how successful we manage all those people, so that:
– they feel motivated, satisfied and rewarded by the working relationship with us;
– we achieve our own objectives and get a feeling of achievement.
There are two ways you can do this:
– you read lots of psychology and management books, then try to round up all the theories and distill what you found out or
– you spend your money and time on a well-written book and get the most of other people’s experiences.
Well, you can guess I chose the second path. And this is what happened with my reading of the “Human Resource Management” study text.
There are countless points where this book proved valuable for my experiences. What I used several times and enjoyed the specific chapter called “Developing Employees and Their Careers”. The question of the egg or the hen is apparent here all the times – should we motivate people to get results or should we make them get results to be motivated? As you would expect, there are no definitive answers to this, but at least I could get a feeling of completeness when I started to apply various theories in various situations, with good to excellent results.
Another feature of the book that I liked was “Research made easy”: Throughout “Human Resource Management” the authors highlight in the How Do We Know section recently published research from scholarly journal in non-technical language. Each of the sections concludes with a “Bottom Line” summary that shows how the findings of the study contribute to our understanding of effective human resource management. This also allows you to pursue your own further research.
All in all, a nice study book on the neglected field of the HR management. Read more

An Investment Book Review – “Global Business Today” by Charles. W. L. Hill

If you have not heard about the multinational companies or multinational enterprises (shortly called MNC’s or MNE’s) and if you are working with shares, you are probably from another planet – or you simply do not care. I can simply assume that 99% of the readers of this book review have heard about the fantastic turnovers they have, about their cross-continental span or about how many people have successful careers in the MNC’s. I am actually one of the persons who happen to know quite well how multinational companies work – and yet I know quite a small portion of what I should know.
The multinational companies can reshape dramatically the earth they walk on, this is why I decided to read a book on how they work. And “Global Business Today” by Charles. W. L. Hill is a treat in itself. If you are accustomed with the McGraw Hill’s study text format, then you will know that their books are comprehensive and packed with study cases. “Global Business Today” does not make an exception, yet it has something more – it is about a subject which touches many aspects about our everyday lives. Read more