Book Review: How The Mighty Fall

January 14th, 2010

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Collins, James C. How the mighty fall : and why some companies never give in. Collins Business, 2009.

The author of longtime bestseller Good to Great and co-author of Built to Last, Jim Collins discusses why once-strong companies begin to decline and then die. Using research data from 60 corporations, Collins describes five stages of corporate decline and shows that even the most successful companies are not immune. Interestingly, decline begins long before it become obvious to anyone, even company insiders.

The 5 Stages of Corporate Decline

  • Hubris Born of Success. The first stage of decline begins when company leaders lose sight of the underlying factors that created success in the first place. Instead of creatively renewing the core business, they are distracted by other threats and opportunities.
  • Undisciplined Pursuit of More. In the second stage of decline, management loses discipline and makes leaps into other areas that undermine long-term value. The company grows at a rapid rate. Finding talent for key seats in the organization becomes difficult. The company chokes in pursuit of growth and expansion.
  • Denial of Risk and Peril. Internal warning signs begin to mount but management blames the difficulty on external factors or puts a positive spin on the data.
  • Grasping for Salvation. Decline becomes visible to all. Leadership responds by grasping for a visionary leader or a radical transformation.
  • Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death. In the last stage, management abandons hope of building a great future.

The good news is that companies can recover. Collins’ research indicates that organizational decline is largely self-inflicted and recovery is possible by returning to solid management disciplines.

Eleven companies are profiled, including Circuit City, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Merck, Motorola, Rubbermaid and Zenith, in this interesting and very readable book.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

Frost and Sullivan Web Site Maintenance Alert

January 8th, 2010

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Please note that the web site will be undergoing essential maintenance and upgrade work this weekend, January 9 – 10.

The web site will be intermittently unavailable from 1AM EST Saturday, Jan. 9, until  between approximately 6PM & 9PM EST Sunday evening, Jan. 10.

Frost & Sullivan wishes to apologize for any inconvenience this may cause their users.

Best Movies of 2009

January 7th, 2010

The Broadcast Film Critics Association has released their Critics’ Choice Award nominees for best picture.  We’ve already added Up to our DVD collection and will be adding the others as soon as they are released.  Look for Inglorious Basterds, The Hurt Locker, and Nine by the end of January.

For a more populist take on the best movies, see Cinemagora’s list of the 100 best releases.  Moviefone does a critics’ top 50 list with their picks in detail.

Book Review: Architects of Ruin

December 22nd, 2009

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Schweizer, Peter. Architects of ruin : how big government liberals wrecked the global economy–and how they’ll do it again if no one stops them. HarperCollins, 2009.

We experienced the dot-com bubble when the market crashed in 2000 due to overconfidence in technology. Investors took money out of the stock market and purchased real estate. It was a better investment opportunity thanks to low interest rates, risky mortgages, and relaxed lending standards.

But, economists have different perspectives on the basic questions of what caused the recent housing bubble, and also what to do about it. Peter Schweizer argues the cause was liberal social policy, not a market failure.

He points the finger at a long list of liberal activists. The short list includes Bill Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, Barney Frank, Barack Obama, Robert Rubin, Nancy Pelosi, Jesse Jackson, Ted Kennedy, and Timothy Geithner. Read more …

Business Week No Longer in Factiva

December 14th, 2009

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Business Week will no longer be available in the Factiva database starting with the December 14, 2009 issue (#4158).

According to this Information Today article, Bloomberg Inc. has acquired Business Week magazine from McGraw-Hill, and has chosen to discontinue online access to full text of issues after 12/7/2009 via Factiva.

The entire archive of Business Week will be removed from Factiva by the end of February 2010. Business Week will also be removed from the Factiva Newsstand landing page within the next week.

Coverage dates for Business Week in Factiva are now 14 January 1985 (issue:2876) until 7 December 2009 (issue:4158).

As of this posting date, the full text of current issues of Business Week is still available in the databases shown at this link; but this may change pending Bloomberg’s negotiations with other database vendors who offer the full text and archive of Business Week.

New Movies for December

December 11th, 2009

Here is the latest round of movies:

The Other End of the Line
Joyeux Noel
Public Enemies
Star Trek
The Tudors, Season 1

Whatever Works

Angels & Demons
The Cove
Four Christmases
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Julie & Julia
Mystery Science Theater 3000
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Terminator Salvation

Using WRDS (Wharton Research Data Services)

December 8th, 2009

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Earlier this fall, WRDS changed the procedure some users must follow to access data sets on the WRDS site.

This change has caused some confusion for users, and so we’ve created an entry in our FAQ to address the issue.

Please read the FAQ entry on accessing WRDS, and let us know if you have any questions.

ProQuest Databases Off-line for Maintenance

December 4th, 2009


All ProQuest databases (including ABI-INFORM Complete) will be temporarily unavailable this weekend while the vendor performs necessary system maintenance.

This maintenance outage will take place from Saturday, December 5, 2009, at 10:00pm EST to Sunday, December 6, 2009 at 2:00am EST.

Fuqua & Duke users may select alternative databases for article searches during the maintenance window by visiting our Databases By Subject page.

Thanks for your patience during this essential maintenance.

Book Reviews: “Cheap” and “Free”

December 2nd, 2009

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Shell, Ellen Ruppel. Cheap : the high cost of discount culture. Penguin, 2009.

Anderson, Chris. Free : the future of a radical price. Hyperion, 2009.

An outlet mall in Philadephia rings in four times as many visitors as the Liberty Bell. Colonial Williamsburg can’t hold a candle to the Potomac Mill outlet mall. So writes author Ellen Ruppel Shell in the book Cheap. Outlet malls are located 25 to 100 miles from a metropolitan area as a deliberate strategy. Not only is the land inexpensive, but the inconvenient location connotes cheap and America has a love affair with cheap.

Ruppel Shell covers a wide range of topics, including the history of bargains and markdowns, the effects of discounting on durability and craftsmanship and the psychology of discount decision making for the shopper. The hunt for bargain prices has led to a host of problems, including an unsafe food supply, global poverty and environmental devastation. Consumers have paid a high price for cheap goods.

So how low could prices go? In Free, author Chris Anderson makes the case that in an online economy, the cost of distribution is driving toward zero. Businesses have become more profitable by giving things away than they can by charging for them. Read more …

What’s on Your Nightstand?

November 25th, 2009

FuquaNet, a newsletter for Fuqua alumni, has a column called “What’s on Your Nightstand?”  It lists books that Fuqua faculty and staff members have read.  Perhaps you might enjoy one or more of these during the upcoming holiday breaks.   Below are some of the titles mentioned, with the reviewers comments, that we have here at Ford Library (click on the link to place a hold or check availability):

Leadership & Management


  • Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (Penguin). Mountain climbing “bum” Mortenson is saved by poor Pakistani villagers and promises to return to build a school for girls. He succeeds and eventually builds more than fifty throughout Pakistan’s and Afghanistan’s poorest regions.
  • The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria (W.W. Norton) deals with a very timely topic, providing a compelling overview of the growth of “the rest of the world” and the diminished influence of the United States in shaping world events. As Zakaria puts it at the beginning of the book, “This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else.” Read more …