Business thinking between the covers

Global Corruption

by Laurence Cockcroft

I B Tauris €29.99

Cockcroft, founder of Transparency International, attempts to lift the lid on organised corruption worldwide. It is difficult, he says, to understate the scale of this problem which ranges over political regimes seeking to extend their power bases, industries such as defence and construction where market share can be won by bribes, or in the total breakdown of health services where counterfeit drugs dominate a health system.

Corruption, he argues, grows as a result of the interplay between elite embedded networks, greed and organised crime, a process facilitated by globalisation. The case for combating corruption is that it is a force which drives poverty, inequality, dysfunctional democracy and global insecurity. Its most consistent victims are the poor who constitute the majority in low-income economies.

Cockcroft provides numerous examples of corruption and prescriptions to tackle it. Among these he suggests that CEOs of major firms and their staff have to make anti-bribery provisions work better and abandon the mispricing that deprives countries of badly needed revenue. Concerted action by the EU, US and Bric countries, operating through the G20, could change the landscape within 10 years. But this will require tacking powerful forces determined to hold on to their power.

The Making of Global Capitalism

by Leo Panitch and Sam Ginden

Verso €24.99

The spread of capitalism around the world was not the result of the operation of any historical law. Rather, it was brought about by human agents and the institutions they created, albeit under conditions not of their choice. That’s one of the key premises of this polemic by left-leaning academics Panitch and Ginden.

The authors believe that the relationship between nation states and multinationals has been misunderstood. There is a mistaken belief, they say, that in going global the forces of capitalism were escaping, diminishing the role of the state. Instead, they believe that the role of the state in maintaining property rights, contracts and currencies has been central to the operation of capitalism.

The book examines how global capitalism came about and what the authors describe as “the American empire that superintends it today”. Containing communism was largely about ensuring that as many of the world’s states as possible would be open to the accumulation of capital, they argue. One aspect of this was how US governments supported the revival of economic competitors through favourable trading conditions, technological assistance and loans so that other countries could sell their products into the US.

Mastering Story, Community & Influence

by Jay Oatway

Wiley €18.99

This provides an excellent starting point for those in business who have not mastered their digital presence. It makes a powerful case for why it is no longer feasible for professionals to ignore social media. Business needs people who treat social media as a professional thought-leadership tool, for both their own careers and for the benefit of the company they work for.

An alternative economy is fast being built on top of social media and those who ignore it do so at their peril. Blogs may have begun as ego projects but today we can no longer afford to treat blogs, Facebook and Twitter as toys of ego, says Oatway. Instead, that “ego system” as he calls it, has evolved into the professional production centre of value for our social currency economy.

In a highly readable book with handy summaries, Oatway explains how to go about creating a valuable online presence. One of the more interesting chapters concerns how to never run out of interesting things to talk about.

Curation, he notes, is much easier than creation and should not be looked down upon. While you should try to create original content or “currency” whenever you can, in between you should be looking at all the other information you can share via social media.