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The book of business

  • Story Highlights
  • Business schools produce books on a huge range of subjects
  • Here is a round up of some interesting titles this year
  • Subjects range from the complex -- hedge funds -- to the far more general
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By Peter Walker for CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- As well as turning out a conveyor belt line of future chief executives, business schools also produce a great deal of research, not only academic papers but also dozens of full-length books.

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A shelf of knowledge: Business schools produce books on a huge range of subjects

Some of this can be fairly arcane and technical, but many of the books are of great interest to the wider public. So, what better way to mark the festive season than a round up of some of the more interesting books produced by business schools this, year, both those featured in Executive Education and other offerings?

One of the more specialized ones featured relatively recently on the site, looked at the puzzling world of hedge funds of funds.

However much of a mouthful this seems, as made clear in a guide by Dr Chris Jones, a fellow at Cambridge University's Judge Business School as well as chief investment officer at a leading hedge fund, the idea is relatively straightforward.

A hedge fund of funds is a collective fund which invests across a range of hedge funds, letting the more casual investor taste some of the high returns available in the area without necessarily having to have in-depth, expert knowledge.

While it demystifies a tricky subject the book is still, perhaps, unlikely to be on the Christmas lists of many general readers.

So what about an examination of the first African American sports star to be celebrated across racial divides -- a precursor, the author argues, for dozens of modern "brand name" celebrities like Tiger Woods or David Beckham.

"Being Sugar Ray: The Life of Sugar Ray Robinson, America's Greatest Boxer and First Celebrity Athlete" by Kenneth Shropshire of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School examines the story of the famous middleweight of the 1940s and 50s.

Also for the sports fan is a work by Franšois Leccia and Lo´ck Roche from the Grenoble school in France, who teamed up with Jacques Delmas, coach of the leading Biarritz rugby team, for a book taking lessons from sport and business.

It claims to "explain how team spirit, reacting to victories and defeats, making the right pass at the right time etc, can be used in the business world."

Another business book likely to find favor covers a subject close to many hearts at Christmas -- a good bottle of wine.

"To Cork or Not to Cork: The Wine Industry's Battle over the Bottleneck" by George Taber covers the history of what goes at the end of a wine bottle; for centuries only cork but now just as likely to be an artificial variant, a screw top or even -- soon to come -- the glass stopper.

The book should be suitable for both general and business readers, Taber stresses.

"I wrote it for a more general audience," he says. "(But) I was a business journalist for most of my career and you know you can take the boy out of journalism but you can't take journalism out of the boy. So I think it probably reflects a little more of a business tone, because I think in a lot of ways, this is a business story."

Another recently-released book covers the fascinating subject of how corporations are perceived and how their essential public identity forms over time.

Fact Box

FT MBA Rankings
1. Wharton, U.S.
2. Columbia, U.S.
3. Harvard, U.S.
4. Stanford GSB, U.S.
5. London Business School, UK
6. Chicago GSB, U.S.
7. Insead, France/Singapore
8. Stern, NYU, U.S.
9. Tuck, Dartmouth, U.S.
10. Yale, U.S.
Source: Financial Times 2007

"The Soul of the Corporation: Managing Your Company's Identity" is the work of professors at two leading schools, Hamid Bouchikhi from ESSEC in France and John Kimberly of Wharton.

One stark example used in the book is that of how McDonald's is perceived in France, where it is simultaneously very popular and a regular focus for anti-globalization protests.

"It's problem in the context of France is: Who is it? Is it an American company that is doing business in France, or is it a French company that is doing business in France?," Kimberly says.

"And McDonald's has struggled with this because at one level, if you look at who they hire, they hire French employees. If you look at the structure at the top of the company in France, it is all French. They do all of their sourcing for products in France. So at one level, it is a very French company, but at another level, the identity is ambiguous because of its roots and origins in United States." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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