McDonald’s promises to use only beef, coffee, fish, chicken, and cooking oil obtained from sustainable sources. Coca-Cola promises to achieve water neutrality. Unilever has set a deadline of 2020 to reach 100 percent sustainable agricultural sourcing. Walmart has pledged to become carbon neutral. Today, big-brand companies seem to be making commitments that go beyond the usual “greenwashing” efforts undertaken largely for public relations purposes.
A wave of business innovation is driving the productivity resurgence in the U.S. economy. In Wired for Innovation, Erik Brynjolfsson and Adam Saunders describe how information technology directly or indirectly created this productivity explosion, reversing decades of slow growth. They argue that the companies with the highest level of returns to their technology investment are doing more than just buying technology; they are inventing new forms of organizational capital to become digital organizations.
In 2006, young people were flocking to MySpace, discovering the joys of watching videos of cute animals on YouTube, and playing online games. Not many of them were watching network news on television; they got most of their information online. So when NBC and MIT launched iCue, an interactive learning venture that combined social networking, online video, and gaming in one multimedia educational site, it was perfectly in tune with the times. iCue was a surefire way for NBC to reach younger viewers and for MIT to test innovative educational methods in the real world.
Innovation is the ruling buzzword in business today. Technology companies invest billions in developing new gadgets; business leaders see innovation as the key to a competitive edge; policymakers craft regulations to foster a climate of innovation. And yet businesses report a success rate of only four percent for innovation initiatives. Can we significantly increase our odds of success? In The Innovator’s Way, innovation experts Peter Denning and Robert Dunham reply with an emphatic yes. Innovation, they write, is not simply an invention, a policy, or a process to be managed.
The financial crisis of 2008 laid bare the hidden network of relationships in corporate governance: who owes what to whom, who will stand by whom in times of crisis, what governs the provision of credit when no one seems to have credit. This book maps the influence of these types of economic and social networks--communities of agents (people or firms) and the ties among them--on corporate behavior and governance. The empirically rich studies in the book are largely concerned with mechanisms for the emergence of governance networks rather than with what determines the best outcomes.
We live in an “Information Age” of overabundant data and lightning-fast transmission. Yet although information and knowledge represent key factors in most economic decisions, we often forget that data, information, and knowledge are products created and traded within the knowledge economy. In Gurus and Oracles, Miklos Sarvary describes the information industry--the far-flung universe of companies whose core business is to sell information to decision makers.
Most managers leave intellectual property issues to the legal department, unaware that an organization’s intellectual property can help accomplish a range of management goals, from accessing new markets to improving existing products to generating new revenue streams. In this book, intellectual property expert and Harvard Law School professor John Palfrey offers a short briefing on intellectual property strategy for corporate managers and nonprofit administrators.
While we have been preoccupied with the latest i-gadget from Apple and with Google’s ongoing expansion, we may have missed something: the fundamental transformation of whole firms and industries into giant information-processing machines. Today, more than eighty percent of workers collect and analyze information (often in digital form) in the course of doing their jobs.
In making decisions, when should we go with our gut and when should we try to analyze every option? When should we use our intuition and when should we rely on logic and statistics? Most of us would probably agree that for important decisions, we should follow certain guidelines--gather as much information as possible, compare the options, pin down the goals before getting started. But in practice we make some of our best decisions by adapting to circumstances rather than blindly following procedures.
Humans are, first and foremost, social creatures. And this, according to the authors of I'll Have What She's Having, shapes--and explains--most of our choices. We're not just blindly driven by hard-wired instincts to hunt or gather or reproduce; our decisions are based on more than “nudges” exploiting individual cognitive quirks.