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The best business books that shape the future

Today’s business students are tomorrow’s leaders, entrepreneurs, and policymakers. DegreeQuery therefore thought it a good idea to find out which books shape the spirit that will shape our future. Using data from Open Syllabus, DegreeQuery researchers identified the most frequently assigned business books in public schools and Ivy League colleges.

And even though no books appear on either list, they found some major overlap in topic. For example, Ivy League and public schools place great value on leadership skills. Stephen Robbins’ foundational organizational behavior and Peter Schein’s organizational culture and leadership made it onto the Ivy League’s most popular reading list.

At the same time, public school students learn the art of effective management from Daniel Goleman’s insightful collection of essays: What Makes a Good Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Is Important. Goleman’s oft-cited work combines business strategy with the latest neuroscientific research to develop a data-driven approach to increasing performance, fostering effective relationships, and fueling innovation.

“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a fate. “- – Stephen Covey

And Ivy League schools, both public and private, ensure that future leaders understand a company’s greatest resource – its people. Abraham Maslow’s A Theory of Human Motivation is one of the most widely used readings in the Ivy League. A Theory of Human Motivation, first published in 1943, is a classic paper on what Maslow called the hierarchy of needs – an important theory in developmental psychology for understanding human motivation.

Peter Senge, a lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), examines Maslow’s ideas in The Fifth Discipline. Senge’s book is a staple on public school reading lists in every state, arguing that one of the fastest ways to make any business successful is empowering employees to achieve personal mastery.

You can see what other business books are shaping the future by reading the following infographic:


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