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Pre-MBA Business Books: Recommendations from INSEAD

Which business books come recommended as pre-MBA reading by faculty members at INSEAD?

Your MBA application is in, and your chances of being accepted onto the program are looking strong. With business school in sight, it's never a bad idea to stay ahead of the curve by leafing through a couple of critically acclaimed business books and immersing yourself in some relevant pre-MBA reading.  


Here are three finance-themed business books that come recommended by professors at INSEAD -  the first instalment of a new pre-MBA reading series on TopMBA.com.  

1. A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-tested Strategy for Successful Investing by Burton Malkiel

A Random Walk Down Wall StreetAdrian Buss and Federico Gavazzoni, assistant professors of finance at INSEAD have both added Burton Malkiel's bestselling guide on investing to the business books included on their students' pre-MBA reading lists. Considered a classic for anyone interested in financial theory, it was first published in 1973 and promptly popularized the 'random walk hypothesis’; the theory that stock market prices cannot be predicted based on past trends.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street covers many well-known empirical observations and historical anecdotes, but at the same time introduces the ideas and concepts of modern portfolio management. It does so in a simple and intuitive way that makes the book accessible to non-finance readers. Many ideas presented in the book can be directly applied for (successful) personal investing, and will be discussed in the MBA classroom,” says Buss.

2. Corporate Financial Reporting and Analysis: A Global Perspective by David Young and Jacob Cohen

Corporate Financial Reporting and AnalysisDaniel Bens teaches financial accounting at INSEAD and chairs the school’s Accounting and Control Area. He cites David Young and Jacob (Jake) Cohen's book as an excellent and comprehensive introduction to financial reporting. Young is an INSEAD colleague of Bens, while Cohen is based at MIT Sloan School of Management in the US.  

Corporate Financial Reporting and Analysis targets not only experienced professionals who may be new to accounting concepts, but also an international audience that David and Jake know well. It is written in a conversational form, yet includes the right amount of technical details that we will also cover in class. The text includes plenty of real-world examples so that participants can immediately see the application of the material to practice,” says Bens.

3. Finance for Executives: Managing for Value Creation by Gabriel Hawawini and Claude Viallet

Finance for ExecutivesSenior managers enrolling in an executive MBA would do well to lean on some of Gabriel Hawawini and Claude Viallet’s insights into financial management, suggests Pekka Hietala, professor of corporate finance on INSEAD's Global EMBA program and chair of the school’s Finance Area. 

Finance for Executives delves into the ways in which financial information can be used to maximize a business' value. Described as neither too theoretical nor too simplistic, the book presents a nice warmup to some of the ‘heavier’ business books that will be dealt out as required reading by professors later into an MBA course.

“The book has less theory than a typical MBA textbook, but contains much more relevant real-life examples and case studies. All my executive participants love Finance for Executives for its clarity and real-life data,” says Pekka. 


Images: Finance for Executives; Corporate Financial Reporting and Analysis; A Random Walk Down Wall Street

Karen Turtle
Written by Karen Turtle

A content writer with a background in higher education, Karen holds an MA in modern languages from the University of St Andrews. Her interests include languages and literature, current affairs and film. ​

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