Livres en sciences sociales: comptes rendus (février 2011)

(source: Library Journal, 31/02/2011)

Information et communication

Davis, Alison & Jane Shannon. The Definitive Guide to HR Communication: Engaging Employees in Benefits, Pay, and Performance. FT: Pearson. Mar. 2011. c.304p. index. ISBN 9780137061433. $39.99. COMM
Davis (coauthor, Your Attention Please: How To Appeal to Today’s Distracted, Disinterested, Disengaged, Disenchanted, and Busy Consumer), CEO of her own employee communication firm, has teamed up with Shannon (73 Ways To Improve Your Employee Communication Program) to write this complete human resources (HR) guide to effective communication with employees. They begin by recommending that the HR department treat employees as customers of the company’s benefits and services. The authors describe the elements of this novel approach, including knowing your employees; constructing effective messages based on that knowledge; identifying appropriate communication tools, formats, and venues; and assessing communication outcomes. Shannon and Davis then review proven communication strategies in recurring HR situations, with examples drawn from their consulting work as well as published research. VERDICT The strength of this informative and well-documented guide lies in the many examples of effective messages and strategies, accompanied by easy-to-follow checklists, tips, and additional resources. Highly recommended for students of communications and business as well as current HR professionals.—Jane Scott, George Fox Univ. Lib., Newberg, OR

Economie

Kasarda, John D. & Greg Lindsay. Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next. Farrar. Mar. 2011. c.480p. bibliog. ISBN 9780374100193. $28. BUS
Kasarda (Kenan Distinguished Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship, Kenan-­Flagler Business Sch., Univ. of North Carolina) developed the “aerotropolis” concept—a combination of a giant airport, planned city, business hub, and shipping center—for cities in China, the Netherlands, Africa, and the United States, among other locations. In the 20th century, airports were generally built on the city’s periphery. With increased air travel, the need for overnight shipping, and expanded global business networks, however, the pattern is changing. Kasarda and journalist Lindsay present not only the theories but the nitty-gritty stories of how the concept was put into practice, the people involved, and an examination of the factors leading to the transformation of these cities. The text includes an extensive bibliography for further reading and research. VERDICT This thoughtful study of the aviation-­centric city plan and its impact on city planning, globalization, and world trade, among other factors, should be read by business students and faculty, practitioners, and interested lay readers. Highly recommended.—Lucy Heckman, St. John’s Univ. Lib., Jamaica, NY

Linkner, Josh. Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System To Drive Breakthrough Creativity. Jossey-Bass. Feb. 2011. c.240p. illus. ISBN 9780470922224. $26.95. BUS
Linkner, founder and CEO of ePrize, one of the top online interactive promotions companies, outlines why businesses need to stay creative to stay competitive. After noticing that businesses have work flows and systems in place for almost every aspect of corporate behavior except creativity, Linkner designed a five-step process to manage innovation as part of daily, monthly, and annual goals. While the individual steps focus on keeping employees alert and responsive to new ideas, the fundamentals of the process mirror established project-management theory. The book provides checklists and questionnaires that spur readers through the process, as well as dozens of examples that highlight the effectiveness of creativity in the workplace. ­VERDICT One of the few books that outline a method for incorporating creativity within standard operating procedures, this will appeal to general business readers as it provides a straightforward plan for boosting innovation.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston

Luntz, Frank I. Win: The Key Principles To Take Your Business from Ordinary to Extraordinary. Hyperion. Feb. 2011. c.304p. ISBN 9781401323998. $25.99. BUS
Luntz, a controversial political pollster, interviewed a fascinating list of “winners” such as Larry Bird, Rich DeVos, and Arnold Schwarzenegger to illustrate his “Luntz Lessons” about winning. Unfortunately the fruit of these interviews is sprinkled throughout the text; it would have been much more useful and engaging to see the interviews intact. List-based self-help books (this one has 13 attributes of winners and nine P’s of winning) have the unenviable task of repackaging common sense. What sets them apart is theme and personality. Here Luntz leans primarily on personality, but his tone is so colloquial that it undermines his authority. Also, at various points the text loses focus on strategies for winning in business as Luntz instead opines that Google is creepy and Steve Jobs is a demigod, among other non sequiturs. VERDICT This guide fails to rise above the extant mass of motivational books. But fans of Luntz’s previous best seller, Words That Work, or his Fox News appearances may be drawn to it.—Robert Perret, Univ. of Idaho Lib., Moscow

Magnus, George. Uprising: Will Emerging Markets Shape or Shake the World Economy? Wiley. 2011. c.368p. index. ISBN 9780470660829. $34.95. ECON
Books addressing issues related to China’s economic rise are not unusual; what sets this title apart is the level of detail Magnus (senior economic adviser, UBS Investment Bank; The Age of Aging: How Demographics Are Changing the Global Economy and Our World) provides in laying out the complex, multifaceted relationship between the United States and China. Drawing on history, demographics, politics, and economics, he paints a picture of a multipolar post-crisis world, with the United States and China its reluctant de facto leaders. Noting weaknesses in China’s financial and economic governance, however, Magnus concludes that only the United States is positioned to pilot the world through the after-crisis turbulence and its reverberations. The United States will have to take the lead in establishing a new economic order. The author also sheds light on the major emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and others) and the impact of both climate change and demographics on the world’s economic future. VERDICT The level-headed, disinterested approach and the non-overbearing inclusion of relevant data make the book appropriate for deepening one’s understanding of present geopolitical tectonics. This is highly recommended to any audience interested in political economy.—Jekabs Bikis, Dallas Baptist Univ., TX

Sciences politiques

Greenfield, Jeff. Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternative Histories of American Politics; JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan. Putnam. Mar. 2011. c.448p. ISBN 9780399157066. $26.95. POL SCI
Greenfield (senior political correspondent, CBS News; The People’s Choice: A Novel) offers three what-if political tales with a familiar cast of Presidents and politicos operating in alternate but plausible historical circumstances. This is a particularly good contribution to the alternate history genre because it relies on non­fiction works, memoirs, and the author’s experience as a political pundit. Greenfield’s spirited writing reaches its high point when he describes how the Cuban Missile Crisis resulted in a limited nuclear war in 1962 during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency (Johnson became President in January 1961, one month after president-elect Kennedy was killed in a bomb explosion). The second story explores Robert F. Kennedy’s election and turbulent presidency, following the failed assassination attempt by Sirhan Sirhan after the 1968 California primary. The final scenario weaves a complex web of Gerald Ford defeating Jimmy Carter in 1976, followed by Ford’s failed presidency, and the 1980 election of Gary Hart, who defeated Ronald Reagan in a close race. Readers will snicker over the ending’s indication that the more things change, the more they stay the same. ­VERDICT This book will hold the interest of those who enjoy political thrillers but will greatly appeal to nonfiction readers of this convulsive era.—Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA

Rosenbaum, Ron. How the End Begins: The Road to a Nuclear World War III. S. & S. Mar. 2011. c.320p. index. ISBN 9781416594215. $28. INT AFFAIRS
Rosenbaum ( Explaining Hitler ) argues that the world is in an especially precarious position with the very real danger of nuclear war. He recounts close calls in recent history from many familiar players: India vs. Pakistan, Russia vs. the United States, Israel vs. Iran and terrorist groups, and North Korea’s current provocations. He also covers other newer nuclear weapons holders, such as China and Taiwan, and devotes entire chapters to potential issues relating to such human variables as the possibility that someone in the chain of command may question the order to push the button to start a nuclear war. He also considers the importance of numbers: Does the number who could potentially be killed factor into the decision making for nuclear war? What if the decision makers don’t think clearly or if they jump the gun? VERDICT Painstakingly researched, with 25 pages of notes, Rosenbaum’s book shows that he has clearly done his homework. Predicting outcomes entails speculation, so whether Rosenbaum is correct in his argument remains to be seen. Pointing out how many hot spots there are in the world is eye-opening to the general reader and is particularly timely as more nations become nuclear strongholds. —Krista Bush, Shelton Public Schs., CT

Sociologie

Spencer, Rainier. Reproducing Race: The Paradox of Generation Mix. Lynne Rienner. 2010. c.355p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781588267511. $68.50;pap. ISBN 9781588267764. $27.50. SOC SCI
Spencer (anthropology & Afro-American studies, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas; Challenging Multiracial Identity) asserts that large numbers of young biracial Americans—“Generation Mix,” as he puts it—will not alter the essential elements of U.S. race relations. A multiracial America is nothing new. Spencer correctly, albeit repeatedly, points out that almost all of today’s African Americans have some European ancestry. He shows that even in today’s multiracial dynamic, white is considered to be at the top of the racial hierarchy while black remains stuck at the bottom. Spencer alleges that the leaders of the new multiracial identity movement are predominantly white mothers of children from mixed marriages who, as Spencer claims, are seeking a status for their children that will be perceived as superior to black. Thus, the multiracial identity movement is based, according to Spencer, on the age-old premise of white supremacy. Rather then forging new racial categories, Spencer calls for Americans to deconstruct whiteness and denounce the very concept of biological race. VERDICT Unfortunately, while Spencer makes many valid observations about the perception of race in this country, his message is mixed in a sea of academic babble that will retain the attention of very few.—Robert Bruce Slater, Stroudsburg, PA

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