Recommended Christmas reading
CBS Alumni can offer a special price on almost all of the recommended books in cooperation with Academic Books. Read more about the offers in the bottom of the article.
Jan Damsgaard, professor and Head of Department, Department of Digitalization
Jan Damsgaard researches digitisation and its possibilities and consequences for the business community and the economy, and he is one of the leading Danish researchers in this area. Jan is a Digital Advisor, appointed by the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences. Jan is also a member of Dansk IT's (a Danish IT professionals' association) expert committee on Finance and IT, and a long-standing member of the steering committee for Copenhagen Fintech Innovation and Research (CFIR) under the Danish Bankers' Association. Jan is Head of Department at the Department of Digitalization, which in terms of research is ranked as the 3rd in Europe and 25th in the world.
I very much appreciate reading both IT specialist books, social science books and books with a historical perspective. "The book", as such, is gradually becoming a physical relic of the industrial society, and is being outcompeted by the blogs, e-books, Facebook etc. of the digital world. But the book is still a dogged symbol of how well-established physical artefacts, with their well-defined players, business models and processes, have no intention of being phased out by digitisation without putting up a fight!
I mostly read in my holidays because my everyday life is often too busy with work and family life. In 2015 I switched hats, from reader to author. It’s been educational and challenging and given me a whole new perspective on 'a book'. My book is called Den Digitale Omstilling: 9 radikale udfordringer som erhvervslivet skal overleve, (the Digital Transformation: 9 drastic challenges that the business community must survive) and is published by Jurist- og økonomforbundets forlag (2015).
I think the book in a comprehensible and inspiring way explains the theories and research behind the digital economy, and what it means for the business community. To help the reader understand the essence of digitisation, the book provides plenty of good examples of insight into shared economy, Internet of Things (IoT), crowdsourcing, big data and cloud-based services: Why are MobilePay, Uber, Gomore, Google, Amazon, Apple and AirBnB setting the agenda in the digital economy? Why did the Danish exercise app Endomondo cost DKK 575 m? How can Uber be worth USD 51 bn without owning anything more than their own headquarters? How can Facebook's annual profit be USD 12.4 bn when it's free to use?
I have with great interest read Platform Scale by Sangreet Paul Choudary and published by Platform Thinking Labs Pte. Ltd. (2015). The book is state of the art in platform economy and design. It describes and explains in great detail about platforms and how they work. Sangreet writes that business on the internet is not a software business, it’s a platform business, where users and producers create value together. It’s not an easy book that you can read in a hurry; it’s for the connoisseur who wants to understand the basic structure of digital platforms like AirBnB, Uber and other leading platforms. But at the same time, I can't imagine a better handbook for those hopeful internet platform entrepreneurs that the Danish economy will be in dire need of in our future digitised society.
A third book that I warmly recommend is The Zero Marginal Cost Society by Jeremy Rifkin, published by Palgrave MacMillan (2014). It focuses on the incredible scalability of digital products, which is a cornerstone of the digital economy. But Jeremy goes a step further and argues that this enormous scalability will slowly but surely lead to the end of the industrial economy. Instead we will see the rise of what Jeremy calls co-creating communities to replace the outdated industrial paradigm. Jeremy's book is provocative, which is a mark of quality to me. It’s interesting to read books that push things to extremes, particularly when they are as convincing and well-written as Jeremy's book.
Ole Thyssen, professor and DPhil, Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy.
Ole Thyssen researches systems theory, ethics and aesthetics in organisations, as well as political philosophy. His work is based on the systems theory established by German sociologist Niklas Luhmann. In 2001 Ole was awarded a lifelong grant from the Danish Arts Foundation for his ‘authorship of general cultural significance’. In recent years he has focused on the history of philosophy and political philosophy, concentrating especially on how the theory of the state got its place in philosophical literature.
THREE BOOKS ON THE STATE
In the past few years we’ve seen a large number of books about the state. Ove Kaj Pedersen published two books on Konkurrencestaten (The competitive state) (2011) and Markedsstaten (The market state) (2014), which he defended as a doctoral thesis at CBS in November 2015. There have also been three other books, which I will comment on here.
The three books use variations of the same image on the cover – an image of the state as a superhuman, large body composed of smaller bodies. The image originates from Thomas Hobbes' book on the state from 1651, Leviathan, which was translated to Danish in 2008. The three books are Mogens Herman Hansen's Hvad er en stat? (What is a state?) (The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, 2014), Mikkel Thorup's Statens idéhistorie. Magt og vold i politik (The state's history of ideas: Power and violence in politics) (Aarhus University Press, 2015) and my own Statslegender. Fra flodstat til velfærdsstat (State legends: From river state to welfare state) (Informations Forlag, 2014).
I asked Mogens Herman Hansen and Mikkel Thorup to present their own books, and I would present mine. That way, we could get things straight from the horse's mouth. Mikkel did just that, while Mogens was clever and used an excerpt from Rune Lykkeberg's review in the daily Politiken.
Mogens Herman Hansen (DPhil & associate professor emeritus, Copenhagen University): Hvad er en stat?
What is a state? is “a small book that provides its reader with a brilliant overview of what a state is, and how it has been understood and interpreted. Hansen's awe-inspiring method is to study all relevant literature within his subject, and then summarise it with exemplary brevity. He explains in a few lines what others have used 100 pages to determine. He does not offer grand theses. He is not an original thinker, but analytically gifted, and can organise and analyse other people's thoughts. What seems complex and confusing is explained with such clarity that anyone can comprehend it once Mogens Herman has grasped and rewritten it.”
- Rune Lykkeberg, Politiken, 12 October 2014
Mikkel Thorup (professor MSO Aarhus University): Statens idéhistorie. Magt, vold og politik
What all states have in common is that their history, creation, development and death can be summarised with three little words: power, violence and politics. They form the core of any state that would like to decide how we should behave. It will punish us if we break its laws, and it will even claim that its decisions are for the good of the community. The state will stretch its presence to every pore of our social lives, and at the same time it can only exist if we believe in it. In that sense the state has become the God of our time. Omnipresent, yet remote and imaginary. In 20 chapters, The state's history of ideas: Power, violence and politics uncovers these thoughts about the state and its essential elements. And it finds a common thread through a number of critical focus points in the state's long and complex history of ideas. Because beyond civil wars and concentration camps, hackers and pirates, liberalism and conservatism, there is always a battle going on for or against the rule of the state.
Ole Thyssen: State legends: From river state to welfare state
State legends is not about the state we hear about in history lessons with kings and wars. It's about the philosophers' state. Philosophy is not just about truth, good and beauty. Throughout the ages philosophers have presented their thoughts on good states and the bad states. They have given the state new words and contributed in the creation of new states. The book first explains what a state is. Then we will look in twelve cycles at how philosophers from antiquity to the present day have discussed the organisation of the state from the perspective of their time, as well as from a distant perspective. The antique state, the Christian state, the absolutist state, the liberal state, the nation state, the democratic state and the welfare state – all these forms of government are presented in an intimate dialogue with the great philosophers. Finally, State legends examines the dilemmas faced by the modern state and which lead on to the next state.
Torsten Ringberg, professor and PhD, Department of Marketing
Professor Torsten Ringberg investigates how unconscious mental models frame managers’ and consumers’ perception, preferences and behavior in areas such as branding, strategic use of social media, knowledge transfer, and reactions to market-based information. Through the lenses of socio-cognitive theories, his research draws from a hybrid of both qualitative and experimental methods. His work has been used by businesses and companies, and has been published in top international academic journals, such as the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research and Journal of Consumer Psychology and Management Studies. He has studied and worked in the U.S. for many years before he arrived at CBS in 2009.
In addition to my research interests, I have been intrigued by the question of how a more holistic approach to capitalism could help address current societal and environmental challenges. Whereas market forces typically are viewed as eventually creating a balance between supply and demand and rectifying any imbalances, such a view disregards the reliance on ‘free’ resources or externalities (e.g., clean air, water, soil, biodiversity, educated workforce, good infrastructure, safe streets, etc.) and the costs (e.g., cleaning up pollution, removing dangerous refuse, education, healthy living) for future generations to have access to the same resources. While technological progress might help redress some of these negative consequences (e.g., help clean the ocean/atmosphere/soil), other consequences will require hundreds if not thousands of years (or longer) to reestablish (e.g., complex ecosystems and species diversity). In a more holistic capitalist system, an inclusion of future costs (i.e., related to ensuring such resources) into the prices of today’s products and services, would dramatically limit consumption of those practices that lead to future destructive consequences.
Conscious Capitalism offers an interesting alternative take on capitalism which addresses some of the aforementioned dilemmas. A New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller in 2014 (with good reviews in the Financial Times and Forbes Magazine) it provides a clear and discerning description of how companies and their stakeholders can grow strong by taking the long-term view and regarding businesses as part of a complex, adaptive system that avoids unnecessary use of resources.
The book argues that business executives ought to include a realistic assessment of the long term societal and environmental impact of their business practices as well as introduces a more collaborative, societal, humane and holistic approach as central to doing business, not only as add-on CSR initiatives to existing business models. Yet, to do this type of business requires the involvement and support of all stakeholders (e.g., employees, suppliers, surrounding communities, customers). The authors, John Mackey, one of the creators of Whole Foods Market, and professor Raj Sisodia, Babson College, Massachusetts, provide compelling examples of how John Mackey, as a strong, visionary, and empathetic leader of Whole Foods Market, endeared its stakeholders to help it on such a journey and thereby made it overcome significant challenges and become the successful company it is today. A stimulating read for those long winter evenings.
Special prices on recommended books
Below is a list of the special prices on recommended books. To buy one or more recommended books for special alumni prices visit the Academic Books website and register using the code: CBS-ALUMNI
The special prices last until the end of January.
Platform Scale af Sangreet Paul Choudary cannot be delivered to Academic Books but can be found online.