A well-argued but overlong demonstration of how earning an MBA can be a liability instead of an asset.

THE MBA BUBBLE

WHY GETTING AN MBA DEGREE IS A BAD IDEA

Ten years after receiving her master’s degree in business administration from a European business school, debut author Zanetti explains why the degree is often ineffective and unnecessary.

Zanetti takes readers through her argument point by point, beginning by noting that correlation and causation are distinct attributes: She cites research suggesting that, because the rigorous admission processes at top business schools are designed to admit individuals most likely to succeed, those individuals’ eventual successes are not the result of their educations at those schools. The book also addresses details of the financial tradeoffs students make in giving up several years of income in order to pursue a degree; most will not make up the difference in substantially higher post-MBA wages, Zanetti says. While data and figures support several of Zanetti’s arguments, others are more philosophical—the ethical limitations of business school, for instance, and the ineffectiveness of case studies as a tool for teaching students to manage new challenges. The book does admit that there are useful aspects to a business education, though Zanetti suggests that, in most cases, potential MBA students can more effectively educate themselves in the necessary areas without getting a degree. On the whole, Zanetti presents a strong argument, but it is not necessarily a book-length one; with several of the anecdotes and pieces of evidence appearing in multiple chapters, the text gets repetitive. The book is also hampered by uneven writing, and it is often evident that English is not Zanetti’s first language: “tittle” for “title”; “To create wealth in the west side of the world, it is not necessary to have neither working capital nor land”; “An MBA degree is not conceived to make you rich but to make rich the shareholders of business schools.”

A well-argued but overlong demonstration of how earning an MBA can be a liability instead of an asset.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1490942933

Page Count: 232

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2014

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

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

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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