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The classics

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The classics

Many business books have become bestsellers, but few have had an enduring impact on the conduct of business. These ten titles, listed chronologically, are must-reads for anyone who wants to understand how business management has evolved to what it is today.

The Theory of Business Enterprise by Thorstein Veblen (1904). Probably the first book to address management as a legitimate field of study; surprisingly modern.

The Principles of Scientific Management by Frederick W. Taylor (1911). The definitive work on creating efficient companies from the bottom up.

General and Industrial Management by Henri Fayol (1916). Defined the role of the CEO, and how the CEO could create efficient companies from the top down.

Economy and Society by Max Weber (1922). The argument for bureaucracy as an optimal organizational scheme.

The Functions of the Executive by Chester I. Barnard (1948). His concepts (though not his writing style) read even better today than they did in his time.

The Practice of Management by Peter F. Drucker (1954). A must-read for understanding this guru’s synoptic (not to be confused with syntopic) view of management.

The Human Side of Enterprise by Douglas McGregor (1960). Building on Abraham Maslow’s psychological hierarchy of needs, this is the seminal work on Theories X and Y of how to manage workers.

Strategy and Structure by Alfred D. Chandler (1962). A monumental analysis of business histories, leading to his inferences about the interplay between business structure and strategy.

Competitive Strategy by Michael E. Porter (1980). A valuable application of industrial organization theory to business strategy.

In Search of Excellence by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman (1982). Overwhelming popularity makes it a must-read, even if only to see what all the fuss was about. – A.M.

Written by Bhushan Kulkarni

December 28, 2006 at 11:02 am

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