Pre-MBA Business Books: Recommendations from Warwick Business School

Pre-MBA book recommendations from Warwick Business School professors

This is the second installment of TopMBA.com’s pre-MBA reading series, featuring business books that come recommended by faculty members of leading schools. On this occasion, strategy and entrepreneurship are central topics as two professors at Warwick Business School (WBS) offer their recommendations of business books to read in anticipation of those all-important first weeks of MBA study. 

1. Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard Rumelt

Good Strategy/Bad Strategy

"Good strategy has a basic underlying structure and logic," says the author and good strategy, it seems, is also rare. Richard Rumelt’s book teaches the reader how to weed out the fluff and business failings too many organizations are guilty of overlooking, to build a clearer, more coherent strategic approach. 

Chengwei Liu, associate professor of strategy and behavioral science at Warwick Business School says: “This is one of the best books on strategy, not just strategy formulations, but also implementation. It provides a useful framework for integrating knowledge from different MBA courses and reminds new MBA students of the ‘big picture’.” 

2. What I Didn't Learn in Business School: How Strategy Works in the Real World by Jay Barney and Trish Gorman Clifford

What I Didn't Learn at Business School

What I Didn't Learn in Business School isn't one of your typical business books, nor is it a textbook MBA read. A short work of fiction, it tells the story of Justin Campbell, an MBA fresh out of business school. Hired as a strategy consultant, Campbell is presented with a series of business challenges that force him to put the knowledge he's developed through the course of his MBA to the test. The narrative reveals the limitations of strategy tools and looks at the human dynamics that are often at the heart of a company's success or failure.

“This is a cool business novel written by one of the most famous strategy scholars, Jay Barney. Readers join the adventures of a fresh MBA graduate and consultant and observe how he solves various challenges from clients by translating the knowledge learned in business school into practice,” says Chengwei.  

3.  Gamechangers: Creating Innovative Strategies for Business and Brands by Peter Fisk


In Gamechangers, Peter Fisk seeks out new businesses and brands that have successfully confronted challenge. He identifies the disruptive and innovative approaches employed by these international 'gamechangers', drawing on 100 case studies.

John Lyon, entrepreneurship and innovation professor at Warwick Business School, says: “We can teach MBAs academic theory, best practice and consultancy mantra, but there is nothing better than experiential learning using all our senses to glean wisdom, as opposed to knowledge only. The next best thing to actually running a business is reading a book of wisdom that comes from such experience. One such book is Gamechangers.”

4. The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing by Michael Mauboussin

The Success Equation

Michael Mauboussin's book evaluates the role of luck, skill and the interplay between the two, using the worlds of business, investing and sport to illustrate his points. The Success Equation ultimately provides a three-step framework aimed at helping the reader make better life and business decisions.  

“Luck plays an important role in business and beyond, but most MBA educators overlook it. This book is written by an investment banker and provides practical guides on how to untangle skill and luck (and how to tame luck),” says Chengwei.  

Images: Good Strategy/Bad Strategy; What I Didn't Learn in Business School; Gamechangers; The Success Equation

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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