The reading level for this article is Moderate

June 17, 2002

We at the NCOE suspect that some of you out there are anxiously anticipating your summer vacation or sneaking out of the office early to hit the beach, mountains, or some other summertime spot. In the interest of providing you with some good reading while you laze on the beach, this week’s NCOE Update lists our favorite books of the last six months. This list is heavily weighted toward your “inner policy wonk.” But if you want to learn what’s new with economic trends and entrepreneurship, this is a good place to start. The books on this list, all published in the last six to nine months, should be easily available on-line or at your local book store.

The Rise Of The Creative Class: and how it’s transforming work, life, community and everyday life by Richard Florida (Basic Books)

What do gay couples and rock bands have to do with economic development? According to Richard Florida, they are — along with teachers, journalists, and artists — the vanguard of a new “creative class” that is transforming American life. These young workers are seeking out “hot companies in cool places,” and regions that can attract them are likely to prosper. Why? Because the new creative class is not only highly educated, it’s also entrepreneurial. Not only do these workers bring immense talent to the job, they also go out and start companies of their own. Florida notes the creative class seeks out communities with exciting nightlife, recreational assets, and an openness to people with new ideas and diverse backgrounds. Places that have this mix, like Austin and Seattle, will continue to prosper in the 21st century. This book has received a great deal of media attention, and we at NCOE will make our own small contribution to the media hype when we host Richard Florida at a Capitol Hill breakfast on Thursday, June 27th. To learn more, click here:

The Free Market Innovation Machine: Analyzing the Growth Miracle of Capitalism by William J. Baumol (Princeton University Press)

William Baumol is one of America’s most respected economists, and a widely cited analyst of innovation and entrepreneurship. His latest book, which seeks to explain why market-based capitalism has outperformed other economic systems, ranks with his best work. Most economists point to price-based competition or simply the diffusion of new technology as the key to economic growth. Baumol argues that the real key is innovation-based competition. Baumol contends that entrepreneurs are the sources of major new innovations in the economy. Entrepreneurial companies then grow large and become successful or are acquired by existing large companies, and these larger companies compete ferociously — not on price but on innovation — in generally oligopolistic markets. They seek out every possible marketplace for their innovations around the globe, and they constantly modify and improve their innovative product offerings to beat their competitors. Alternatively, if they fail to innovate in this way, new companies will emerge or their competitors will triumph in market competition. Thus, day-in, day-out, unrelenting innovative activity becomes a life and death matter. This continuous cycle of innovation — begun with entrepreneurial companies and then fully exploited by larger, oligopolistic competitors — produces robust economic growth as the benefits of new products and services spill over to society at large. This “routinization” of innovation, according to Baumol, is the real key to economic prosperity.

Bold Women, Big Ideas: Learning to Play the High Risk Entrepreneurial Game by Kay Koplovitz (with Peter Israel), (BBS Public Affairs)

This book is a must read for anyone — not just women — who has a big idea for a new business. Kay Koplovitz tells the unvarnished story of her rise to leadership in the cable industry and how, once successful as CEO of a major cable network, she ended up with nothing when the company was sold. Why? Because she had no equity. Ms. Koplovitz uses her USA Networks experience and her personal search for venture capital to teach women how to plan, launch, grow, and most importantly, own the successful companies they create. Through Springboard, a women’s venture capital forum she started while serving as Chair of the National Women’s Business Council, Ms. Koplovitz is reaching women nationwide, helping them to benefit from her experiences and avoid her own mistakes.

China Dawn: The Story of a Technology and Business Revolution by David Sheff (HarperBusiness)

China’s economy is often referred to as a “sleeping giant.” David Sheff’s book, China Dawn, asserts that the nap may be over. This interesting study of China’s high-tech revolution argues that a new generation of business-savvy entrepreneurs will transform Chinese society. The book’s two primary heroes are Bo Feng, a leading venture capitalist, and Edward Tian, co-founder of AsiaInfo, a local Internet provider. While Feng and Tian provide excellent color to the story, they are really only exemplars of a wider generational change in Chinese society. Sheff argues that the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs is likely to emerge from this generation.

A Stake in the Outcome: Building a Culture of Ownership for the Long-Term Success of Your Business by Jack Stack and Bo Burlingham (Doubleday)

If you don’t know about Jack Stack, you should. In the early 1980s, Stack worked for International Harvester and was overseeing the shut-down of one of the company’s local plants. Convinced that the facility could be profitable, Stack and 12 other employees bought the plant and created a successful company, Springfield Remanufacturing Corporation (SRC). Along the way, they pioneered new techniques of open-book management and employee empowerment. Stack’s first book, The Great Game of Business, is a classic. This follow-up continues SRC’s story with a detailed look at why equity sharing is so important, and tips on how managers and employees can create an ownership culture in their own organizations. In the aftermath of the Enron debacle, this excellent book is much-needed.

The Entrepreneurial Parent by Paul Edwards, Lisa Roberts, and Sarah Edwards (J.P. Tarcher)

This is a fun how-to guide for those of us who struggle to work from home while also changing diapers or helping with homework assignments. It includes a survey of entrepreneurial parents, and also has lots of tips, vignettes, and stories about time management, family, and financial matters.

Invisible Advantage: How Intangibles are Driving Business Performance by Jonathan Low and Pam Cohen Kalafut (Perseus Publishing)

A recent Wall Street Journal story noted that the majority of the value of America’s largest corporations is based on intangible (as opposed to physical) assets. Finding ways to manage and exploit these intangibles has become the holy grail for senior executives everywhere. Low and Kalafut’s book seeks to help. It describes a corporation’s most important intangible assets and offers many useful tips for managing them.

This NCOE Update article was written by National Commission on Entrepreneurship on 2/28/2005

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