Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana: Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice
This book is a compendium that we hope serves well for anyone interested in an academic (not popular) overview of the state of social science research on the topic of leadership.
Rakesh Khurana: From Higher Aims to Hired Hands: The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management as a Profession
In this book, I examine the institutional development of business education in the United States. I will be interested in your reactions.
Shashi Tharoor: Nehru: A Biography
As a young Indian child growing up in America, I heard stories about India's independence movement from my parents. I was told about Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India. I had trouble believing that a single individual could have so much impact on the world. After reading, Shashi Tharoor's book, I've changed my mind. Tharoor's analysis of the intertwining between an individual's biography and the birth of a nation is masterful. The book stays close to its subject, Nehru, but then ventures to link his biography to many of the Indian institutions we now take for granted, including: secularism, democracy, non-alignment, and the country's prowess in science and math. This is a highly readable book and I strongly recommend it to any reader interested in learning about India, its culture, and its first leader.
Hernando De Soto: The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else
This is a fantastic book. Based on extensive field work, de Soto describes why capitalism fails to take hold in so many countries. His focus is on the institution of property rights. Sociologists should read this book carefully. In my view, it belongs alongside Smith, Keynes, Ricardo, and Marshall.
Mary Douglas: How Institutions Think
This book will re-wire your mind. If you ever believed that what we take for reality is mostly a projected societal consensus rather than objective fact, read this book. In addition to being a first-class theorist who can identify critical mechanisms for the social construction of reality, she is fantastic writer. I couldn't sleep for days after reading this book.
Michel Houellebecq: The Elementary Particles
After reading Houellebecq's Platform: A Novel, I decided to read his earlier novel. I'll post a review when I'm done.
Rakesh Khurana: Searching for a Corporate Savior: The Irrational Quest for Charismatic CEOs
I wrote this book. If you buy it, let me know what you think.
I am professor at Harvard University with three children and a wonderful partner.
WHO IS RAKESH KHURANA?
A brief introduction, in the form of a Q&A:
Q: Who are you?
A: I'm a professor of organizational behavior at Harvard Business School. My 'official' title is the "Marvin Bower Professor Leadership Development". I received my degrees in organizational behavior from Harvard's Ph.D. program in 1998, my A.M (Sociology) from Harvard in 1997, and my bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1990. I worked for three years as a founding team member of Cambridge Technology Partners before starting graduate school in 1994. After finishing my doctorate, I taught at MIT's Sloan School of Management. In 2000, I accepted an appointment at the Harvard Business School. My research focuses on managerial labor markets, elites, and business education.
I have written two books (and working on a third), edited one book, and regularly write articles on executive labor markets, MBA education, and leadership as an academic discipline. I am probably best known for two streams of research. One based on my book, Searching for a Corporate Savior: The Irrational Quest for Charismatic CEOs and related academic and managerial articles on the pitfalls of charismatic leadership. My work in this area is regularly featured by the general media such as: Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Newsweek, The Washington Post, CNBC, The Economist, Globe and Mail, The New Yorker and Corporate Board Member magazine. I also published opinion-editorials in some of these outlets.
The second work was my work on the institutional development of American business education in "From Higher Aims to Hired Hands: The Social Transformation of American Business Education and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management as a Profession" (another mouthful of a title, sorry).
Q: What do you know?
A: I can claim some expertise in the area of economic sociology, especially in the dynamics of high-end labor markets, sociological interpretations of economic phenomenon, organizational theory, the institutional development and challenges confronting business education, and the Simpsons. As my family reminds me, this specialized training does not prevent me from commenting on most things, including politics, food, movies, books, and speculating about people's childhoods.
Q: What are your politics?
A: I’m an independent type with a strong view that social institutions are important civilizing forces. I believe in the open-society and that we should be skeptical of those who argue that the war of all-against-all is the natural state of mankind and that nature beats nurture. I try to understand both sides of an issue by reading alot and trying to undercut my own arguments.
Q: Why do you do keep a blog?
A: I love being an academic researcher and teacher (I really feel its my calling), but I think it is too easy to become overly-narrow and specialized in one's field. Personally, I find that my best ideas are stimulated by considering different disciplinary views on similar phenomena and thinking critically about institutions, especially those that are not debated. At the same time, I often hesitate putting out views that I have not at least given some thought to and reflected upon.
Q: Do you tell people about this site?
A: Not really. I have a link to the site on my official HBS biography, but you have to really want to know about me to find it because it is at the bottom of a lengthy description.
Q: Can I hold you accountable for what you write on this site?
A: No. I engage in lots of thought experiments and my comments might be suppositions rather than assertions.
Reading, jogging, playing with my three children, and trying to do everything right.