by Duncan Clark ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 12, 2016
Useful, business-minded reporting on an unconventional corporate magnate, containing both corporate and human-interest...
A study of the multibillion-dollar Chinese e-commerce conglomerate and its charismatic founder.
Technology and financial expert Clark astutely profiles Jack Ma, the 51-year-old entrepreneur behind Alibaba, “the Amazon of China” that has become the world’s largest online shopping mall. Having met Ma in 1999, the author recalls the former English lecturer’s remarkably ambitious spirit and his intentions to overthrow the giants of Silicon Valley with the development of an unrivaled Internet-based business. Ma was backed by only a small handful of co-founders (his wife included), but the author pitched in and became an adviser to Alibaba in its infancy as it developed and gained a competitive edge through what Ma calls the “iron triangle” business plan: e-commerce, logistics, and finance, all of which Clark outlines in lucid detail. Further embellishing his portrait, the author also draws on his 20-year tenure living and working in China, and he shows the great impact of the multifaceted online experience on the country’s financial and cultural climates. Clark cites the 2008 global financial crisis as the tipping point when China’s economic focus turned inward to boost its own economy instead of primarily exporting goods overseas. Alibaba took the lead, launching itself with an online payment system and a host of subsidiary sites, which attracted small businesses to sell merchandise through their Web portals with no fees. Noting that the company remains governed by a “customer first, employees second, and shareholders third” philosophy, Clark contrasts Alibaba’s camaraderie-centered campus culture, including employee incentives and commitment awards, with its initial struggle to find startup investors and earn commercial credibility. The author frequently highlights Ma’s quirky, often contrarian personality and risk-taking management style. A particularly vigorous chapter on the struggle between Alibaba and e-commerce titans eBay and Yahoo for profitability and marketplace saturation in China dramatically demonstrates the volatility and competitiveness between businesses seeking to harness Internet consumerism.Useful, business-minded reporting on an unconventional corporate magnate, containing both corporate and human-interest perspectives.
Pub Date: April 12, 2016
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2016
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016
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by Daniel Kahneman ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 2011
Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...
A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.
The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.
Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011
Page Count: 512
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011
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by Erin Meyer ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 27, 2014
These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.
A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.
“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.
Pub Date: May 27, 2014
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014
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