- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 4, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195373421
- ISBN-13: 978-0195373424
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1 x 6.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,898,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders: How Your Genes Affect Your Work Life 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Bored at work? Prone to taking dangerous risks on the job? A control freak? Your genes may be to blame, argues economics professor Shane in this analysis of how our professional destinies are influenced by our genetic and hormonal makeup. Particularly intriguing are his discussions of how individuals might be variously hardwired to be altruistic, to job-hop, desire high-powered careers, take risks, and manage in highly idiosyncratic styles. Shane's findings may have a practical component, as a wider understanding of genetics may require companies to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions used to enhance employee performance, such as incentive plans and training. Buttressed by fascinating research and reasonable interpretations, the book reveals how and why some of us seem to be born leaders, creative types, communicators, or entrepreneurs. If the book has a failing, it's accessibility: though the author makes a laudable attempt to reach a broad audience, some scientific discussions might prove too esoteric. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Once in a decade a magnificent book comes along that causes a paradigm shift in thinking about business. Scott Shane's Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders is that book."--Barbara Oakley, Ph.D., author of the best-selling, Evil Genes"Are you a workaholic? The answer may lie as much in your genes as your personality. Scott Shane has written a fascinating account of how our inherited DNA influences our work life. This book is about more than our genes; it's about what our genes can tell us about ourselves."--Dean Hamer, Molecular biologist and author of The Science of Desire, Living With Our Genes, and The God Gene. "This book is a great read for anyone interested in the exciting new world of genetics. Focusing on job choices and workplace behaviour, it shows what genetics can offer employers, employees, parents, and students alike."--Tim Spector MD, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Director of TwinsUK, Kings College London, and author of Your Genes Unzipped. "This is a very important book outlining and discussing how the biological building blocks of DNA affect and permeate almost everything we think, feel, and do in the workplace. Scott Shane has done a masterful job in taking difficult and sophisticated scientific findings and translating them into readable and comprehensive terms and implications."--Richard D. Arvey, noted behavioral geneticist, and Chair of the Management and Organization Department, University of Singapore. "Scott Shane takes a close look at recent scientific research to assess the role that genes play in careers and career choices. His aim is to illuminate the role of heredity at work. The strength of his account is that it calmly brings an uncomfortable subject to the fore, laying out the research data in admirably plain English and describing in detail how scientists match specific genes to specific traits."--The Wall Street Journal
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Top Customer Reviews
My only criticism of the work is that the author quotes heavily from Frehley's blog instead of his book Leadership is Innate and does not mention the author by name. I hope this is corrected in a future revision.
I agree that genes can be the basis for our parents or us choosing to do something, such as having a good ear may help us along the path of becoming a singer or playing a musical instrument. However if that aspect of the "nature" portion of the "nature vs. nurture" is just 1/3, that still leaves 2/3 to "nurture" and "the environment". Why is so much stock being given to the 1/3? Worse, is later Shane contradicts himself by saying that a person may possess a gene that makes them a naturally talented athlete but that a person lacking that gene may choose to work hard, maybe harder than the natural athlete, and wind up performing equally or better. On page 21 Shane says that a person prone to anger may have to work harder to remain stoic, so the point is what? Is not how the person acts what matters, do we care if the person finds it easy or works at it? So, does it really matter who has the gene for something? Should not a person, whether they're an adult or teen or child, be judged on their present actions and real behaviors and accomplishments rather than being ranked and rated by their DNA? At the end of the book the author speculates about employers reviewing potential employees with a DNA screen and while the ethical issue is debated it is clear that Shane likes the idea, an idea which I find highly disturbing.
The fact of the matter is that the testing for DNA is not available yet, to people or to employers. So, how can we use the information in this book? The fact is that we cannot use this information in a practical way today.
What do we have to go on today? As people thinking of our own lives: we have our own actions and personal choices to base our decisions on when seeking employment and other life choices. We have an awareness of ourselves, or at least some of us think we do. However Shane says that people are bad judges of their own selves, so we cannot trust ourselves to really know ourselves. So where does this leave us?
On page 11 Shane asks should we not know how the DNA of the person working in the next cubicle over is affected by their genes, if it accounts for 1/3 the difference between us. Well given the fact that I don't know their DNA, this is a question without an answer. It's a moot point. After working with people just a short while we start to figure out what makes them tick (or at least I can and do) and we can base our interactions with them on our experiences with them. It's the best we have to work with at this point in time.
If you are a person who hires employees, you already have other tools at your disposal to help you figure people out and I'm willing to bet that you have good intuition and good body language reading skills (probably thanks to your DNA) and good communication and people skills to help you with the job screening and interviewing process. So is a DNA screen necessary anyway for hiring new employees, even if it were available? Just because this new information that Shane shares about which gene does what is known to some people now does not mean it is necessary to use in order to find a good match for a job when given a pool of job candidates to choose from.
What do we have now for tools for hiring new employees? Presently we have various personality tests; some are detailed and specifically written by psychologists and are already used by employers to prescreen potential candidates. These run along the same lines as what Shane tells us that genes can tell us, thinks like how much risk-taking we are comfortable with, our impulsiveness, extrovertedness vs. introvertedness, so forth and so on. Companies who believe in such things and who choose to pay for them, already use them now. My husband had to take those kinds of tests via the Internet before some employers would even consider interviewing him for a job.
"Before describing the implications of genetics for workplace behavior, I want to stress that the conclusions discussed in this chapter ARE SPECULATIVE. We need more research before anyone can make concrete recommendations." ... (Twin studies have shown genetic predispositions) "have not identified specific genes that influence those actions. And without knowing which genes are affecting what outcomes, the implications we can draw are limited." (page 184) I think that sums up a big problem with this book.
I take issue with some over-crediting and over-generalization that Shane does throughout the book. For example he says that serotonin is gene controlled when in fact a majority of serotonin is actually due to the environment and is controllable by a person. For example, the foods we eat can boost serotonin, spending some time in the sun in the morning can boost it, full spectrum light bulbs for indoor use can boost it, not to mention the millions of people who take serotonin boosting drugs such as Prozac! Shane discusses the role of dopamine but again what's vital is the neural activity to transport it, not just the genes.
Hormones (mostly testosterone) are also discussed a lot in the book, and it's the same issue with them: they depend on environment for the large part! Furthermore, a major issue with both serotonin and hormones is not the genes but the firing between the neurons (which is discussed in a 2012 book Connectome by Sebastian Seung). Although estrogen is not discussed in the book, I know that estrogen is influenced by the foods we eat (soy, chickens fed hormones to grow larger breasts) and by air pollution. Many factors in our environment act as phyto-estrogens, tricking our bodies into thinking they are estrogen, and raising the levels. Even being obese can cause a woman to secrete more estrogen, since fat cells produce and release estrogen. He didn't even mention the trend of women taking testosterone supplements! People's bodies, mental states and personalities are unintentionally and intentionally changed by manipulating these agents. Thus, for serotonin, dopamine and hormones, environment is much more important than the genes, period!
The book is 200 pages of text and about 65 pages of notes and references.
It seems that Shane did a lot of research and with that data, he wrote this book, but the book does not provide practical information that people or employers can use now. A major problem with the book is that the author gives credit to genes for what is actually neural activity that is plastic and can and does change due to environment (nurture). I have a problem with how the book oversimplifies and overgeneralizes and seeks to give more credit to the 1/3 influence of the DNA than to the 2/3 that is life experience and environment. Thus I rate the book 2 stars = I Don't Like It.
His conclusion is that while we all like to think that we have total control over our lives, what we do and who we become, we are all influenced to a large extent by our genes. Our DNA has a much more profound affect on our lives than we would like to believe.
We are comfortable with the fact that the color of our hair and eyes are determined by our genes. But when it comes to our behavior, we become uneasy thinking that our genes have a large influence. Scott shows that studies have time and time again proven the impact that our genes have on how we perform in the workplace and whether we actually become leaders and/or entrepreneurs.
The studies have shown that our genes have great influence on our behavior. However Shane is quick to point out that this influence indicates a propensity to behave in a certain manner. We are not predestined by our DNA to act in a specific manner. We can and do have control over our lives. At times we just have to work harder to achieve the same goals than someone who is born with a natural tendency toward that goal.
While the book deals with a very interesting topic, I found it tedious to read. I believe for the book to appeal to a wide audience, it should be much shorter. Shane is a scientist and this work is directed more at being accepted by his peers than communicating with the average reader. There are 50 pages of reference notes at the end of the book.
If you are interested in a detailed study of the impact of DNA on leadership and entrepreneurs, then you might find this helpful. If you are interested in an overview of the subject, I believe you will find this a bit tedious to read. The lessons could be made more interesting by focusing less on repetitive information and more on interesting stories surrounding the subject.