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The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Machiavelli was a historian with an acutely analytical eye. The lessons of The Prince are ones that every student should know -- not to practice the methods but to protect him or herself from being practiced upon.
Paris Spleen by Charles Baudelaire
It is simply the most understated of the great literary works of the past millennium. Whenever I feel like spending time on my eccentric side I read a prose-poem or three.
Peter ArnoldBoston University
Theory of Scheduling by Richard W. Conway, William L. Maxwell, and Louis W. Miller
It would be impossible for an operations management professor to not put at least one technical work on a list like this. This is a good one that demonstrates the elegance of mathematics in an area of academic research that was very important during that time.
Toyota Production System by Taiichi Ohno
My interest in manufacturing stemmed from my own professional experience. In graduate school, I continued to be interested in manufacturing with a focus on logistics. When I first became aware of the methods used by Japanese manufacturing companies I was astounded at the degree to which those operations were superior. The basics, especially the developmental history, are here.
The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt
Many academics initially pooh-poohed the simplicity with which the author lays out the problems (and solutions) to manufacturing management. While a novel, it should not be read on the beach. It is interesting to note that two of the most influential people in modern operations management were physicists.
Restoring Our Competitive Edge by Robert H. Hayes and Steven C. Wheelright
While sitting in Professor Stan Stockton's office in Bloomington, Ind., in 1985 I saw this book on his shelf and asked him about it. He thought I should read it. I did and pretty much abandoned all thoughts of focusing my academic research on the cool math like that found in Conway, Maxwell, and Miller.
Competitive Advantage by Michael E. Porter
Business students have a few things in common regardless where they attend school. The four Ps of marketing, assets equals liabilities plus shareholder's equity, and Porter's something or other. This book details the means by which firms within an industry can develop and subsequently maintain positions of advantage.
The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack with Bo Burlingham
The book describes the reemergence of a small Midwestern manufacturing firm after an employee-led leveraged buyout. The ideas of "open book" management are laid out in fairly straightforward terms. I particularly like getting students to see the efficacy of everyone in the organization understanding the financials well enough to see their contribution to the firm's success.
The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas L. Friedman
Everyone has already read this but in case someone has not or perhaps has not read The World Is Flat, do so now. Friedman, a New York Times writer and editor, is most readable and eminently understandable in the globalization of well, the globe. He knows absolutely everybody and has interesting anecdotes to support his views. Hard to believe that a work of nonfiction could be a page-turner but this one is just that.
Biographical Info: Peter Arnold joined the Boston University School of Management faculty in 1987. He first became interested in an academic career in management after more than a decade in the food processing industry, and earned a PhD from Indiana University. As faculty director of the undergraduate program, he was instrumental in helping to develop the School of Management's cross-functional undergraduate curriculum.