New books

You can find the complete list of new acquisitions on the New books page. The list includes all English-language books bought by the Library in the last two month (and published in the last five years), the books are grouped according to theme and title.

Here you can read selected book recommendations from the list of the new books.

The tyranny of metrics

The tyranny of metrics / Jerry Z. Muller
Princeton, US: Princeton Univ. Press, 2018. 220 p.

 

Today, organizations of all kinds are ruled by the belief that the path to success is quantifying human performance, publicizing the results, and dividing up the rewards based on the numbers. But in our zeal to instill the evaluation process with scientific rigor, we've gone from measuring performance to fixating on measuring itself The result is a tyranny of metrics that threatens the quality of our lives and most important institutions. In this timely and powerful book, Jerry Muller uncovers the damage our obsession with metrics is causing - and shows how we can begin to fix the problem. Filled with examples from education, medicine, business and finance, government, the police and military, and philanthropy and foreign aid, this brief and accessible book explains why the seemingly irresistible pressure to quantify performance distorts and distracts, whether by encouraging "gaming the stats" or "teaching to the test."

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Marx's inferno: The political theory of capital

Marx's inferno: The political theory of capital / William Clare Roberts
Princeton, US: Princeton Univ. Press, 2017. 282 p.

 

Marx’s Inferno reconstructs the major arguments of Karl Marx’s Capital and inaugurates a completely new reading of a seminal classic. Rather than simply a critique of classical political economy, William Roberts argues that Capital was primarily a careful engagement with the motives and aims of the workers’ movement. Understood in this light, Capital emerges as a profound work of political theory. Placing Marx against the background of nineteenth-century socialism, Roberts shows how Capital was ingeniously modeled on Dante’s Inferno, and how Marx, playing the role of Virgil for the proletariat, introduced partisans of workers’ emancipation to the secret depths of the modern “social Hell.” In this manner, Marx revised republican ideas of freedom in response to the rise of capitalism. Combining research on Marx’s interlocutors, textual scholarship, and forays into recent debates, Roberts traces the continuities linking Marx’s theory of capitalism to the tradition of republican political thought. He immerses the reader in socialist debates about the nature of commerce, the experience of labor, the power of bosses and managers, and the possibilities of political organization. Roberts rescues those debates from the past, and shows how they speak to ever-renewed concerns about political life in today’s world.

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Excuse me: The survival guide to modern business etiquette

Excuse me: The survival guide to modern business etiquette / Rosanne J. Thomas
New York: Amacom, 2017. 269 p
.

Blending different generations, genders, and cultures brings energy and fresh perspectives to the workplace. But the flip side is an environment ripe for confusion and social blunders. Mix in increasingly open-plan workplaces and constant connectivity, and the chance that we'll unintentionally annoy or offend others increases exponentially.
Exactly what are the rules these days? Is it acceptable to text your boss at home? What is the polite way to ask a colleague to take a distracting conversation behind closed doors? What about the use of smartphones in meetings? Merging classic rules of behavior with new realities of modern business, Excuse Me spotlights dozens of puzzling situations, with suggestions for bridging divides. The book untangles the nuances of:
Meeting etiquette - Interview expectations - Proper office attire - Electronic manners - Privacy in tight spaces - Eye contact and nonverbal cues - Small talk - Business dining - Social media use - Working remotely and flexibly - And more.
While the youngest employees might seem unruly, the oldest can seem rigid. Good manners create an atmosphere of respect, and smooth the way for everyone to succeed

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The art of revolt: Snowden, Assange, Manning

The art of revolt: Snowden, Assange, Manning / Geoffroy de Lagasnerie
Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 2017. 120 p.

Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning are key figures in the struggles playing out in our democracies over internet use, state secrets, and mass surveillance in the age of terror. When not decried as traitors, they are seen as whistle-blowers whose crucial revelations are meant to denounce a problem or correct an injustice. Yet, for Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, they are much more than that. Snowden, Assange, and Manning are exemplars who have reinvented an art of revolt. Consciously or not, they have inaugurated a new form of political action and a new identity for the political subject. Anonymity as practiced by WikiLeaks and the flight and requests for asylum of Snowden and Assange break with traditional forms of democratic protest. Yet we can hardly dismiss them as acts of cowardice. Rather, as Lagasnerie suggests, such solitary choices challenge us to question classic modes of collective action, calling old conceptions of the state and citizenship into question and inviting us to reformulate the language of critical philosophy. In the process, he pays homage to the actions and lives of these three figures.

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Mastering 'metrics: The path from cause to effect

Mastering 'metrics: The path from cause to effect / Joshua D. Angrist, Jörn-Steffen Pischke
Princeton, US: Princeton Univ. Press, 2015. 282 p.

Applied econometrics, known to aficionados as 'metrics, is the original data science. 'Metrics encompasses the statistical methods economists use to untangle cause and effect in human affairs. Through accessible discussion and with a dose of kung fu–themed humor, Mastering 'Metrics presents the essential tools of econometric research and demonstrates why econometrics is exciting and useful.

The five most valuable econometric methods, or what the authors call the Furious Five--random assignment, regression, instrumental variables, regression discontinuity designs, and differences in differences--are illustrated through well-crafted real-world examples (vetted for awesomeness by Kung Fu Panda's Jade Palace). Does health insurance make you healthier? Randomized experiments provide answers. Are expensive private colleges and selective public high schools better than more pedestrian institutions? Regression analysis and a regression discontinuity design reveal the surprising truth. When private banks teeter, and depositors take their money and run, should central banks step in to save them? Differences-in-differences analysis of a Depression-era banking crisis offers a response. Could arresting O. J. Simpson have saved his ex-wife's life? Instrumental variables methods instruct law enforcement authorities in how best to respond to domestic abuse.

Wielding econometric tools with skill and confidence, Mastering 'Metrics uses data and statistics to illuminate the path from cause to effect.

  •     Shows why econometrics is important
  •     Explains econometric research through humorous and accessible discussion
  •     Outlines empirical methods central to modern econometric practice
  •     Works through interesting and relevant real-world examples

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In-your-face politics: The consequences of uncivil media

In-your-face politics: The consequences of uncivil media / Diana C. Mutz
Princeton, US: Princeton Univ. Press, 2015. 263 p.

 

Americans are disgusted with watching politicians screaming and yelling at one another on television. But does all the noise really make a difference? Drawing on numerous studies, Diana Mutz provides the first comprehensive look at the consequences of in-your-face politics. Her book contradicts the conventional wisdom by documenting both the benefits and the drawbacks of in-your-face media. "In-your-face" politics refers to both the level of incivility and the up-close and personal way that we experience political conflict on television. Just as actual physical closeness intensifies people's emotional reactions to others, the appearance of closeness on a video screen has similar effects. We tend to keep our distance from those with whom we disagree. Modern media, however, puts those we dislike in our faces in a way that intensifies our negative reactions. Mutz finds that incivility is particularly detrimental to facilitating respect for oppositional political viewpoints and to citizens' levels of trust in politicians and the political process. On the positive side, incivility and close-up camera perspectives contribute to making politics more physiologically arousing and entertaining to viewers. This encourages more attention to political programs, stimulates recall of the content, and encourages people to relay content to others

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The invisible hand? How market economies have emerged and declined since AD 500

The invisible hand? How market economies have emerged and declined since AD 500 / Bas van Bavel
Oxford, GB: Oxford Univ. Press, 2016. 330 p.

 

The Invisible Hand offers a radical departure from the conventional wisdom of economists and economic historians, by showing that 'factor markets' and the economies dominated by them — the market economies — are not modern, but have existed at various times in the past. They rise, stagnate, and decline; and consist of very different combinations of institutions embedded in very different societies. These market economies create flexibility and high mobility in the exchange of land, labour, and capital, and initially they generate economic growth, although they also build on existing social structures, as well as existing exchange and allocation systems. The dynamism that results from the rise of factor markets leads to the rise of new market elites who accumulate land and capital, and use wage labour extensively to make their wealth profitable. In the long term, this creates social polarization and a decline of average welfare. As these new elites gradually translate their economic wealth into political leverage, it also creates institutional sclerosis, and finally makes these markets stagnate or decline again. This process is analysed across the three major, pre-industrial examples of successful market economies in western Eurasia: Iraq in the early Middle Ages, Italy in the high Middle Ages, and the Low Countries in the late Middle Ages and the early modern period, and then parallels drawn to England and the United States in the modern period. These areas successively saw a rapid rise of factor markets and the associated dynamism, followed by stagnation, which enables an in-depth investigation of the causes and results of this process.

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The ambivalent internet: Mischief, oddity, and antagonism online

The ambivalent internet: Mischief, oddity, and antagonism online / Whitney Phillips, Ryan M. Milner
Cambridge, GB: Polity, 2017. 246 p.

This book explores the weird and mean and in-between that characterize everyday expression online, from absurdist photoshops to antagonistic Twitter hashtags to deceptive identity play. Whitney Phillips and Ryan M. Milner focus especially on the ambivalence of this expression: the fact that it is too unwieldy, too variable across cases, to be essentialized as old or new, vernacular or institutional, generative or destructive. Online expression is, instead, all of the above. This ambivalence, the authors argue, hinges on available digital tools. That said, there is nothing unexpected or surprising about even the strangest online behavior. Ours is a brave new world, and there is nothing new under the sun – a point necessary to understanding not just that online spaces are rife with oddity, mischief, and antagonism, but why these behaviors matter.

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Branding: A very short introduction

Branding: A very short introduction / Robert Jones
Oxford, GB: Oxford Univ. Press, 2017. 136
p.

Branding is possibly the most powerful commercial and cultural force on the planet. Iconic names such as Coca-Cola, Nike, Manchester United, Harry Potter, and Google are known and recognized by millions of people worldwide. As the market economy spreads across the world, brands are becoming ever more prevalent. The Apple brand has been valued at $98 billion - more than the GDP of Slovakia. Every day, we're exposed to more than 3500 brand messages. And even though people are increasingly brand-aware and brand-sceptical, they are nevertheless seduced by brands. We may reject the whole brand system, but we still wouldn't be parted from our Apple Macs. Brands are impossible to escape.
In this Very Short Introduction Robert Jones discusses the rising omnipresence of brands, and analyses how they work their magic. He considers the incredible potency of brands as a commercial, social, and cultural force, and looks at the many different kinds of brands that exist - from products, services, and artistic properties, to companies, charities, sports clubs, and political parties. Defining what we mean by the word 'brand', he explores both the positive and negative aspects of brands. Finally Jones considers the business of branding, and asks whether the idea of brands and branding is starting to decline, or whether it has a long future ahead.

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For formal organization: The past in the present and future of organization theory

For formal organization: The past in the present and future of organization theory / Paul du Gay and Signe Vikkelso
Oxford, GB: Oxford Univ. Press, 2017. 211 p.

This book focuses on the state of Organization Theory, its purpose, object, and practical relevance. In recent years, disquiet has mounted within the field of organizational analysis, broadly defined, about the overly theoretical and a-or anti-organizational state of Organization Theory and its consequent lack of practical purchase, not least in the light of pressing economic, social and political concerns that are often profoundly organizational in nature.

The book argues that predominant contemporary modes of theorising within the field, and in particular the stance associated with them, have had the effect of occluding and dissolving Organization Theory's core object - formal organization - and, as a consequence, dissipating its practical focus and reach. The book seeks to contribute to the goal of reviving Organization Theory as a practical science of organizing and rehabilitating its core object -formal organization - through a re-examination and re-assessment of the outlook, comportment and attitude - stance - animating its classical antecedents. This ambition is double edged. For not only does it seek to revive Organization Theory through reconnecting it with the practical orientation framing classical organizational analysis, it also seeks to indicate how the historic products of that orientation or stance still have considerable traction for analysing and intervening in contemporary matters of organizational concern. Not least, this 'classical organizational stance' provides those who adopt it with a method with which to orient themselves both in formal organizational thought and in formal organizational life.

It furnishes them with an ethos combining both practical rationality and ethical seriousness. In this sense the book suggest itself both as a guide to doing Organizational analysis and doing practical organization

 

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