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MBA in a Box: Practical Ideas from the Best Brains in Business Hardcover – May 4, 2004

3.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This practical guidebook to business concepts is appropriately straightforward in its approach. Kurtzman, a former New York Times reporter and editor of the Harvard Business Review, explains that the volume is "organized to reflect the way normal people do and think about business." Kurtzman identifies "big ideas" as concepts that... reduce the fog of complexity into something simple, solid, tangible, and most of all workable." Not so much a nuts-and-bolts guide to business, this volume focuses on ideas and takes readers through the process of innovation, the fundamentals of sustainability, finance and accounting, and the intricacies of strategy and management. Kurtzman explains that his book can be read either from cover to cover or thumbed through whenever answers to questions about a creative concept are needed. The book addresses such topics as human resources, leadership, marketing, communication and learning from slip-ups (both one's own and those of others). Lending extra credibility to the volume is an impressive roster of contributors, including Michael Milken, 3Com founder Bob Metcalfe, Segway inventor Dean Kamen and Harvard Business School dean Kim Clark, each writing about his or her area of expertise. In keeping with Kurtzman's philosophy of business (it's "one of life's great games, and it is exhilarating"), the book makes for a refreshing and often humorous read. Whether the book's marketing concept (the "box" of the title is actually a slip-case) and high price point will attract readers is left to be seen.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Former New York Times reporter Kurtzman, who has written seven previous books on the markets, big business, currencies, and the economy, is also founding editor of Strategy and Business and editor of Harvard Business Review. Here he has assembled some thoughts from the best minds in business into a practical resource for solving problems and generating new ideas. The more than 35 contributors include Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway human transportation device, who talks about how new technology becomes significant only when it turns into the Big Idea, which happens when people start doing something they've never done before and find they can't live without it. The 1980s bond king Michael Milken discusses how corporate finance is more an art than a science; journalist Victoria Griffith has two articles--one discusses how biotechnology companies innovate, the other the implications of electronic communication within organizations; and, finally, Sam Hill brings his unique perspective on branding to the table. All the pieces are both pointed and concise. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 51313th edition (May 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609610880
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609610886
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #556,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In recent years, there have been several excellent books which cover much of the same material found in this volume. For example, Steven Silbiger's The Ten-Day MBA: A Step-By-Step Guide To Mastering The Skills Taught In America's Top Business Schools and Milo Sobel's 12 Hour MBA Program. (Both Silbiger and Sobel know it's impossible to gain the knowledge-equivalent of an MBA degree in 10-12 months, much less in 12 hours.) Each of the their books is worthy of consideration as is this book. In fact, at least to business students and to relatively inexperienced executives, I presume to suggest that all three be purchased and then kept near at hand for frequent consultation.

Throughout history, all of the the most effective people were/are life-long learners. They fully appreciate the importance of knowing what they need to know; also the importance of knowing what they think they know...but don't. As a result of all manner of new/better technologies, we now have access to more information than ever before...and both the quantity and quality of that information seem certain to increase faster than ever before. What we know as well as knowing what we don't know are critically important. I am reminded of Derek Bok's response to irate parents after a tuition increase at Harvard: "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."

In collaboration with Glenn Rifkin and Victoria Griffith, Kurtzman takes a different approach to various subjects than do Silbiger and Sobel. They provide a specific course of self-directed sequential study whereas Kurtzman provides a series of separate but related chapters, each of which focuses on fewer specific subjects but in greater depth and from several different perspectives.
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Format: Hardcover
I acquired this book as a referesher subsequent to completing my MBA program. It is a suprising disappointment, and I do NOT believe it is an "MBA in a BOX" by any stretch of the imagination. I am somewhat reluctant and uncomfortable to speak negatively about any book I have read, and I have read plenty of books and review a fraction of them on Amazon.com. Nevertheless, I have a sense of obligation to tell people that this book will most-likely not provide them the information they are perhaps looking for in terms of MBA material. To try to be perhaps fair, I am going to highlight some important aspects in this book.



The concept, from Clayton M. Christensen's THE INNOVATOR'S DILEMMA, "that companies fail not because managers are dumb but because the system doesn't allow them to succeed" is very important as it touches on empowerment, organizational learning, and team building (and learning).



Yes, I agree that strategic thinking involves intuition and creativity. I am very happy that the balanced scorecard was covered in this book, which is an excellent tool for organizations to measure performance.



Encourage entrepreneurial behavior and thinking. Ensure your team is actually empowered to make decisions, take action. Otherwise, how can you possibly encourage entrepreneurial behavior and thinking in an organization?

Human Resources


The importance of retaining and motivating the "knowledge worker" is covered, which is a concept from Peter Drucker. Organizations must appreciate, recognize, and understand a knowledge worker's extensive knowledge.
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Format: Hardcover
MBA In A Box is a collection of essays written by business experts. The concepts and terminology frequently assume you are already reasonably familiar with business concepts.

For example, one of my favorite essays in the book is a republication of a Harvard Business School article (mid 90's) on the failure of Strategic Planning as it has been taught to generations of business school grads (especially MBAs). Terrific article, but it would really help to already be exposed to Strategic Planning (flawed as it is). This article helps with MBA background more than some of the others, but is still a critique of an MBA topic as opposed to a introduction.

Since I got the book wanting a survey of MBA knowledge, I have some disappointment with it. I definitely learned from it, but having a controversial genius like Milken do the chapter on Capitilizing a Corporation was over my head in several places. The Finance and Accounting chapter was more of what I expected, as it described the traditional role and current firestorm around the role of the CPA - educational and up to date.

If you are a seasoned business person, the book may be interesting to you as a light collection of essays from illuminated business minds. I am not quite that far along, but I gained from reading the book and may read it again one day. I've deducted from the rating of these quality essays because the title is so misleading - an obvious ploy to grab attention irrespective of the content. The ploy worked on me and I'm a little better for it, but it is still a cheap ploy.

For MBA beginners-surveyors like me I recommend The Complete Idiot's Guide to MBA Basics. It's a very basic, yet useful, intro.
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