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May 1, 2008

SHELF LIFE

Forward editors review the latest books on business, economics and trade.

By Tarun Khanna
Harvard Business School Press, 2007
U.S. and Canada $29.95

Billions of Entrepreneurs: How China and India are Reshaping Their Futures—and Yours

China and India both may be undergoing social and economic revolutions, but many fail to recognize the radical differences between the two countries, author Tarun Khanna writes in Billions of Entrepreneurs.

China operates based on a top-down development model with an “omniscient Communist Party articulating a central direction,” while India is comparatively more competitive, allowing the free market to “run amuck,” he says. Khanna aims to answer such questions as, “Why can China build cities overnight while Indians have trouble building roads?” and “Why does China prohibit free elections while Indians, in free and fair elections, vote in officials with criminal records?”

In answering those questions, Khanna keeps the countries’ differences front and center. By doing so, he draws the conclusion that China and India are inverted mirror images of each other: China’s strengths are India’s weaknesses, and vice versa. Khanna suggests that working together, the countries could have a stronger impact on each other and the world than either could alone. Such economic cooperation apparently has already begun, with entrepreneurs from both countries replacing decades of hostility with mutualism. Billions of Entrepreneurs is an insightful resource for anyone working—or considering working—in either China or India.

 

By Cathleen Benko and Anne Weisberg
Harvard Business School Press, 2007
$29.95

Mass Career Customization: Aligning the Workplace With Today’s Nontraditional Workforce

Mass Career Customization argues that the corporate world, in two generations, has transformed more quickly and dramatically than ever before. Changing family structures, labor shortages, an increasing number of women in the workplace, technology advancements and new expectations from Generation Y, the newest-generation workforce, authors Benko and Weisberg say, require organizations to rethink the typical corporate model. Gen Y members aim to get ahead through a combination of climbs, lateral moves and even descents—what Benko and Weisberg dub the “corporate lattice,” a take on “corporate ladder”—rather than a straight vertical rise to the top. To work with this generation, the authors suggest employers collaborate with employees to identify options, make choices and agree to tradeoffs to ensure both parties’ needs are met. Mass Career Customization offers a fresh take on the “flexible work arrangement” solution often urged by workplace experts.