Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: HarperCollins, 1990. A landmark study in the positive psychology of ‘flow’ or experiencing optimal, creative psychological states. Csikzentmihalyi’s subsequent books including Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention (New York: HarperPerennial, 1996) are also highly recommended.
Kim Etherington. Becoming a Reflexive Researcher: Using Our Selves in Research. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2004. A guide to auto-ethnographic research and journaling.
David Evans, Paul Gruba, & Justin Zobel. How to Write a Better Thesis (3rd ed). Melbourne: Text, 2011. Has insights on the chapter structure and how to establish and to articulate your original scholarly contribution.
Valerie J. Janesick. “Stretching” Exercises for Qualitative Researchers (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishers, 2004. A collection of exercises on observation, analysis, interviews, and the personal development of researchers.
David R. Krathwohl & Nick L. Smith. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education & the Social and Behavioural Sciences. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005. An advanced guide to dissertation proposals, with an emphasis on mixed methods research.
Patrick Dunleavy. Authoring a PhD Thesis. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. One of the best guides available to the PhD process.
Gary King, Robert O. Keohane, and Sidney Verba. Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994. KKV lays the groundwork for mixed methods research design and causal inference in social science research. It includes discussion of hypothesis testing, defining variables, selection bias, and measurement error. For the subsequent KKV debate see Henry Brady and David Collier’s Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards (2nd ed) (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010).
Alexander L. George & Andrew Bennett. Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences. Boston MA: The MIT Press, 2005. George and Bennett present a structured approach to case study research. They discuss the philosophy of science, theory development, process tracing, and the differences of within case and comparative case analysis. This book has a useful appendix of case study exemplars in sociology and political science research, and why each is successful.
Writing & Editing
Wendy Laura Belcher. Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2009. Belcher is a Princeton University academic who also teaches writing and editing skills. This book demystifies and provides a step-by-step plan for the writing and publishing process. I use this book in academic writing syndicates.
Commonwealth of Australia. Style Manual: For Authors, Editors, and Printers (6th ed). Milton: John Wiley & Sons Australia, 2002. The Australian Government’s guide to editing and publishing.
Elizabeth Flann & Beryl Hill. The Australian Editing Handbook (2nd ed). Milton: John Wiley & Sons, 2004. A guide to Australian publishing and editing.
Dixie Elise Hickman & Sid Jacobsen. The Power Process: An NLP Approach to Writing. Carmarthen, Wales: Crown House Publishing, 1997. A neuro-linguistic programming model of writing, editing, different writing genres, and psychological state management.
Anne Sigismund Huff. Designing Research for Publication. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2008. An advanced guide to methodological, research design, epistemology, and creative issues to consider when developing journal articles. Useful to meet the criteria for original scholarly contributions.
Sanford Kaye. Writing Under Pressure: The Quick Writing Process. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. Kaye is a teacher and consultant at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. This book outlines Kaye’s Quick Writing Process to edit text during time constraints.
Scott Norton. Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. Norton is director of editing, design and production at the University of California Press. Provides a glimpse of how developmental editors select and develop academic manuscripts for publication.
Joseph M. Williams. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. An excellent guide to prose and composition.
Barbara Minto. The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking (3rd ed). Essex: Edinburgh Gate, 2002. Minto originally created this guidebook for McKinsey strategy executives. This book deals with patterns of deductive and inductive logic, argumentation, grouping, and problem-solving.
Steven M. Cahn. 2008. From Student to Scholar: A Candid Guide to Becoming a Professor. New York: Columbia University Press. A pragmatic guide to navigating academic politics, from finishing your dissertation to handling academic interviews and promotions committees.
John M. Darley, Mark P. Zanna, & Henry L. Roediger. The Compleat Academic: A Career Guide. Washington DC: American Psychological Association, 2003. Although oriented towards psychologists, this is one of the best guides available to successful academic careers, publishing, competitive grants, and teaching.
David Allen. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. New York: Penguin, 2001. A guide to Allen’s popular GTD method for personal time and workflow management.
Peter Block. Flawless Consulting: A Guide To Getting Your Expertise Used (3rd edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Block was a student of the organizational theorist Chris Argyris who popularized ‘double loop’ learning. This is the classic, influential guide to consulting and the steps usually taken in organizational contexts. Block reaches parallel conclusions to Senge on the role of humanistic philosophy and systems thinking in consulting engagements.
Reid Hoffman & Ben Casnocha. The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career. New York: Crown Business, 2012. Hoffman is cofounder and chairman of LinkedIn. A career guide to developing a competitive advantage; strengthening professional networks; and leveraging breakout opportunities.
Jim Hopkinson. Salary Tutor: Learn The Salary Negotiation Secrets No One Ever Taught You. New York: Business Plus, 2011. A Silicon Valley guide to salary negotiation and defeating the ‘evil HR lady’.
Gayle Laakmann McDowell. The Google Resume: How to Prepare for a Career and Land a Job at Apple, Microsoft, Google or Any Top Tech Company. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Whilst aimed at programmers, this guide has excellent advice on resumes, cover letters, referees, and handling interviews. For senior roles, see Marshall A. Brown and Annabelle Reitman’s High Level Resumes: High-Powered Tactics For High-Earning Professionals (Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press, 2005).
Jack Welch & Suzy Welch. Winning. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. Winning can be read in several ways. It provides a snapshot of Welch’s coaching advice to potential corporate leaders. It is a guidebook to the psychological attitudes that some MBA executives adopt (and thus what you are likely to encounter in the corporate jungle in Lean Six Sigma and Workout projects, which are both worth mastering). It is a publishing exercise that diverted attention from Welch’s divorce to his first wife. For a more skeptical view of Jack Welch’s GE tenure see Thomas F. Boyle’s At Any Cost: Jack Welch, General Electric, and the Pursuit of Profit (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998) and the Welch/Tom Peters chapter in Jeff Madrick’s Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present (New York: Knopf, 2011).
James Macgregor Burns. Leadership. New York: Harper & Row, 1978. The classic study on charismatic, transformational and transactional styles of leadership which shaped research agendas over the next two decades. The meme of transformational leadership came from Burns’ study.
Robert Dallek. Nixon and Kissinger: Partners In Power. New York: Penguin Books, 2007. Based on extensive, declassified documents, Dallek captures the dysfunctional leadership in the White House and the effects of the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal on Nixon and Kissinger. A case study in the abuse of executive power.
Sydney Finkelstein. Why Smart Executives Fail: And What You Can Learn From Their Mistakes. New York: Portfolio, 2003. If you aim to climb the corporate ladder then Finkelstein’s accessible study is mandatory reading on the common patterns of failure. Finkelstein conducted 197 interviews and examined 51 US and international companies on corporate failure. He provides diagnostic tools to recognize failure and suggests early warning signals in the common situations in which corporate failure occurs.
Richard D. Hames. The Five Literacies of Global Leadership: What Authentic Leaders Know and You Need to Find Out. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007. A contemporary approach to leadership that draws on strategic foresight and other domains for insight.
Robert D. Kaplan. Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands A Pagan Ethos. New York: Vintage Books, 2002. Kaplan contends that classicist sources can inform decision-makers about contemporary events. He revisits Churchill, Livy, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Tiberius and others for insights about the catalysts for war. In early 2012, Kaplan joined the Austin-based geopolitical publisher Stratfor as a writer.
Joe R. Katzenbach & Douglas K. Smith. The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1993. In the early 1990s companies such as 3M, Motorola and Apple focused on innovation through teamwork. This is the classic study that influenced the next decade’s research on knowledge management. It occurred just as American managers experimented with business process reengineering and quality circles.
Robert N. Lussier & Christopher F. Achua. Leadership: Theory, Application, Skill Development (5th ed.). New York: South-Western/Thomson, 2012. A best-selling university textbook on leadership frameworks and business applications. For current practices also see Jay A. Conger and Ronald E. Riggio’s anthology The Practice of Leadership: Developing the Next Generation of Leaders (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007).
David Maister, Charles H. Green & Robert M. Galford. The Trusted Advisor. New York: The Free Press, 2000. A professional service firm model of building trusted, personal relationships. Also see Maister’s True Professionalism: The Courage To Care About Your People, Your Clients, and Your Career (New York: Touchstone, 1997).
Paul C. Nutt. Why Decisions Fail: Avoiding the Blunders and Traps That Lead to Debacles. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc, 2002. A collection of case studies from the Ford Pinto to the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas in 1993. Nutt identifies 10 different categories of blunders, decision errors and traps across his case study cohort. His solutions include understanding the ‘arena of action’, developing an ethical sense, insisting on learning, and identifying a range of options.
Peter M. Senge. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organisation (revised edition). London: Random House, 2006. Senge popularized MIT research into systems thinking and his framework for the ‘learning organisation’ helped to shape knowledge management and organizational psychology. The other disciplines include ‘personal mastery’, ‘mental models’, ‘shared vision’ and ‘team learning’.
Alistair Cockburn. Agile Software Development: The Cooperative Game (2nd ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2007. This is a guidebook to agile software development that elaborates further on themes explored by David Allen, Jeffrey K. Liker, and Peter M. Senge. Cockburn reinterprets many different theorists and frameworks, notably Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings. Filled with insights on strategy, collaborative teams, and methodology design and implementation.
Avinash K. Dixit & Barry J. Nalebuff. The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. A primer on game theory and how it can inform decision-making. Dixit and Nalebuff explore how to think ahead in competitive situations and outline decision trees and other methods. On game theorist John Nash, see Ron Howard’s film A Beautiful Mind (2001).
Gary Klein. Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009. Klein (Sources of Power) identifies ten common mistakes about decision-making. He examines the role of understanding and experience, using insights from behavioural psychology.
Bruce Kuklick. Blind Oracles: Intellectuals and War from Kennan to Kissinger. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006. Kuklick is a history professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Blind Oracles shows how policymakers misuse and reshape the ideas of war intellectuals for their own Machiavellian agendas. Kuklick reassesses George Kennan’s grand strategy; the RAND think-tank; Henry Kissinger; Robert McNamara; Daniel Ellsberg; and the Harvard School of Government (Graham Allison’s Essence of Decision on the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and Richard Neustadt & Ernest May’s Thinking In Time on analogical reasoning).
Jeffrey K. Liker. The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles From The World’s Greatest Manufacturer. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004. The first in Liker’s management book series on the Toyota Production System and lean management frameworks. This book bridges corporate strategy, operations and project management on how to avoid ‘muda’ or waste. Liker also adopted Peter Senge’s ‘learning organisation’ framework. Subsequent books in Liker’s series have dealt with culture, teams, innovation, and similar topics.
Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ahlstrand & Joseph Lampel. Strategy Safari: A Guided Tour Through the Wilds of Strategic Management. New York: The Free Press, 1998. Mintzberg is a provocative thinker who has influenced the craft of corporate strategy. Strategy Safari details ten different schools of thought and how they shape strategic thinking. If you plan to work in corporate strategy, all of Mintzberg’s books are highly recommended.
Peter Schwartz. The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World. New York: Currency Doubleday, 1991. The classic guide to the Global Business Network’s methodology for scenario planning. Provides insights on generating scenarios and having strategic conversations. Schwartz’s follow-up book Inevitable Surprises (London: The Free Press, 2003) distilled his insights on global trends. For a comparator, on strategic inflection points, see Andrew S. Grove’s Only The Paranoid Survive (revised edition) (New York: Currency, 1999).
Sun Tzu. The Art of Warfare. Trans. Roger Ames. New York: Ballantine Books, 1993. This translation of Sun Tzu’s classic (The Art of War) incorporates the Yin-ch’ueh-shan texts. Ames’ commentary situates the recently discovered texts in their archaeological and historical context.