Worth the paper it's printed on? Robert Heller's guide to the latest business books.
The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton M. Christensen
Harvard Business School Press £19.95
Everybody knows why great firms (IBM, GM, etc) stumble: because of 'incompetence, bureaucracy, arrogance, tired executive blood, poor planning and short-term investment horizons'. Wrong. The failures of integrated steel companies vs mini-mills, mainframe computers vs microprocessors, variety stores vs discounters, etc were paradoxically the result, not of mismanagement, but of managerial excellence.
This must-read book shows how true closeness to key customers, combined with correct pursuit of up-market margins, actually steers good managements clear of having to adopt 'disruptive technologies'.
The vanishing of all 14inch disk-drive makers before the onslaught of the 8inch epitomises the consequences of being too successful with older technology. The remedy is probably unfettered corporate start-ups: but this authoritative study looks at all options.
The Will to Lead: Running a Business with a Network of Leaders by Marvin Bower
Harvard Business School Press £19.99
Marvin Bower's The Will to Manage (1966) is one of the best consultant books. This isn't. Bower, a prime McKinsey mover, calls (rightly) for the ending of command-and-control management and for the undermining of hierarchy through 'leadership'. Unfortunately, he knows of no company that 'motivates people throughout' - as he recommends - by forming multiple leadership teams with multiple leaders.
His is similar to the McKinsey model; this often reads like a McKinsey memoir. But Bower's a wise old hand. If his book inspires managers to seek more stimulating management styles and structures, then that's what the author would have wanted - and what every company needs.
The Differentiated Network: Organising Multinational Corporations for Value Creation
Nitin Nohria and Sumantra Ghoshal
Jossey-Bass Publishers £19.95
Written by two top academics this contains more references to other authors than usable information. Its hard-to-read research reinforces the work of Christensen and Bower. Innovation is the name of the game for multinationals.
But they won't win without adapting relations between HQ and subsidiaries to the latter's different natures and needs. It wins the authors' plaudits: but who today thinks that the old, undifferent-iated, HQ-knows-best MNC stands a chance?
THE MT-WHAT CAR? GUIDE
Which middle/senior managers' cars hold their value?
Model List Price Depreciation Value after
over 3 years 3 years (%)
1 Mercedes Benz C180 Classic £19,990 £8,796 56
2 Audi A4 1.8SE 4r £20,609 £10,305 50
3 Volkswagen Passat 1.8 20v Sport £17,110 £8,897 48
4 BMW 318i SE £19,535 £10,744 46
5 Saab 900 2.0i 5dr £16,300 £7,335 45
6 Citreon Xantia 1.8i SX 16v £15,895 £8,742 45
7 Chrysler Neon 2.0 16v LX £13,795 £6,483 43
8 Peugeot 406 1.8 GLX 4dr £16,445 £9,867 40
9 Rover 618Si 4dr £16,940 £10,164 40
10 Volvo S40 1.8 SE £16,675 £10,172 39
11 Ford Mondeo 1.8 GLX 5dr £16,285 £10,097 38
12 Honda Accord 2.0i S £16,290 £10,100 38
13 Nissan Primera £16,240 £10,069 38
14 Vauxhall Vectra 1.8 GLS 5dr £16,600 £10,458 37
15 Mazda 626 2.0 Lxi 5dr £14,610 £9,204 37
16 Renault Laguna 1.8RT 5dr £13,440 £8,467 37
17 Mitsubishi Carisma 1.8gLX 5dr £13,225 £8,464 36
18 Toyota Carina E 1.8 CD 5dr £15,480 £10,062 35
19 Seat Toledo 2.0 Sport £15,700 £10,205 35
20 Daewoo Espero 2.0 CDXi £13,735 £9,612 30
Buyers, it is alleged, often pay way over the odds for the reputation of
German cars. Looking at their retained values over three years, however,
the initial outlay may well be worth it. The driver who economised with a
Daewoo would see it lose 70% of its value over three years, whereas the
motorist who splashed out on a Merc would see its value drop by just over
40% (and get to enjoy three years cruising around in a far flashier
EUROPE'S MOST EXPENSIVE MBAs
Course fees for 10 costliest business schools in Europe
Rank School Annualised
1 Cambridge University, The Judge Institute £17,500
2 IMD (Switzerland) £16,200
3 Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris
- MBA Sciences Po £16,000
4 INSEAD £15,700
5 SDA Bocconi-Milano, Italy £15,300
6 Ashridge £15,000
7 Oxford University, School of Management Studies £15,000
8 Cranfield School of Management £14,500
9 European School of Management (EAP), France £13,000
10 Warwick Business School £12,500
Course lengths vary; exchange rates are for 8/9/97; prices to
That five of the 10 costliest schools are British maybe due to the
rise of sterling. That Cambridge is the most expensive, however,
suggests thisparticular institution is trading on 1,000 years of
history. For economy, Teesside University can see you right for as
little as £700.