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					 Academy of Management Executive, 2002, Vol. 16, No. 3




                                                         BOOK REVIEWS
Choosing Books and Book Reviewers

On a typical day we receive between two and five books from publishers and authors hoping that we will
review their work for our readers. After thoughtful consideration, we select the ones which we feel have the
greatest potential to provide useful information and ideas to practicing executives. We think you will find our
selections to be both interesting and worth your time to read. If you would like to suggest books for us to review
or are interested in writing reviews, please contact Jeff Katz, Book Review Editor, at ikatz@ksu.edu.


Taking on the World: Globalization                                          • Even after foreign investors decided to go over-
                                                                               seas, what were the factors leading them to
Strategies in Malaysia
                                                                               choose Malaysia?
                                                                            • To what extent have Malaysian companies been
                                                                               successful in collaborating with foreign inves-
                                                                               tors, given the many differences between
                                                                               them-particularly as joint-venture partners?
                                                                            • In view of the recent trends, what can be pre-
                                             By Sieh Lee Mei Ling,             dicted for Malaysia?
                                             Malaysia. McGraw-
                                             Hill, 2000. 300 pages,         In order to address the above issues effectively, the
                                             hard cover, RM 79.90/          author collected data from multiple sources-
                                             US $23.00.                     which she calls a three-pronged approach-to help
                                                                            us better understand the topic. The author:

                                                                              Conducted an extensive literature search to ex-
              Si.ft L.. MW 11.9                                               amine how Malaysia has been used to help
                                                                              achieve corporate goals and business objectives
                                                                              of foreign companies.
Reviewed by Mahfooz A. Ansari, University Science
                                                                            • Gathered and analyzed statistical data fitting
Malaysia
                                                                              her broad research objectives. In other words,
                                                                              she used all available macro-level evidence to
  In Taking on the World: Globalization Strategies
                                                                              demonstrate the part played by Malaysia in the
in Malaysia, Professor Sieh Lee Mei Ling candidly
                                                                              global strategies and international business op-
focuses on the changes that have been taking
                                                                              erations of companies.
place within Malaysian corporations because of
                                                                            • Collected company-level data, from multina-
long-term global business strategies. Her principal
                                                                              tionals and domestic Malaysian companies
thrust is to emphasize "the role of Malaysia as a
                                                                              alike, by holding lengthy discussions with about
host country for multinational companies engaged
                                                                              30 senior government officials from the Malay-
in real productive activities and in the trade as
                                                                              sian Industrial Development Authority and the
part of their international operations." Stated dif-
                                                                              Ministry of International Trade and Industry as
ferently, she investigates the role of Malaysian
                                                                              well as other relevant ministries and depart-
companies-at home as well as abroad-as part-
                                                                              ments, senior managers of MNCs, and large Ma-
ners with multinational corporations operating in
                                                                              laysian companies operating in five industry
Malaysia. She takes a futurist orientation as she
                                                                              sub-sectors.
deals with "what is to come." In particular, focus-
ing on the last decade of the twentieth century, she
                                                                            Using three terms-multinational, transnational,
evaluates five key globalization issues:
                                                                            and global companies-interchangeably, the au-
• With globalization, foreign direct investment                             thor discusses the contribution of "the Malaysian
  ( FDI) inflows into Malaysia are increasingly mo-                         economy to corporations as they cast their hori-
  tivated by factors different from those of earlier                        zons not just internationally as before, but in a
  periods.                                                                  highly integrated fashion through unprece-
• The link between FDI and international trade in                           dented multidimensionally tight business rela-
  goods and services is enlarging.                                          tionships."

                                                                      155
    156                                     Acade m y of Man agement Execu tiv e                                  August


       One of the best parts of the book is the richness         Making Sense of Strategy
    of the data in terms of qualitative analysis of
    selected interesting industry-specific cases. In
    total, the author chose five specific industry
    sub-sectors for in-depth analysis: electronics, au-
    tomobiles, food, textiles and apparel, and finan-
    cial services. Each industry-case has been ar-                                              By Tony Manning. New
    ranged in the following sequence: An Industry                                               York: AMACOM, 2002.
    Overview, Malaysia's Role in Global Strategies,                                             98 pages, hardcover,
                                                                                                $19.95.
    Emerging Globalization Strategies, Implications
    of Globalization, and Future of Malaysia's
    Global Linkages. The analysis of these five in-
    dustry-cases indicates that Malaysian investors
    are at different stages of involvement in different
    industries. The role of the various industries is
                                                                 Reviewed by Jeffrey P. Katz, Kansas State University
    contingent on several factors such as age and
    history of the specific company, the adoption of                 Is it possible to write a complete and useful book
    advanced technology, the degree of moderniza-                about business in 98 pages? How often have you
    tion, capital intensity, local content and target            read a book about strategic management in less
    market, and the quality of human resources                   than an hour and felt that you have "everything
    available within the economy.                                you need to know"? The answers: Yes and proba-
       Although the author warns of the potentially ad-          bly never.
    verse impact of globalization, she is optimistic                 In Making Sense of Strategy, author Tony Man-
    about this phenomenon in the Malaysian context.              ning promises to give us useful information about
    She is positive because Malaysia was successful              a business subject that captivates and frustrates
     in arresting past problems of economic downturn             most managers-strategy. "Let's cut the b.s. and
    through fundamental policy adjustments and the               cut straight to the chase. Strategy is not rocket
    political strength of the Barisan Nasional (National         science. It's about listening to customers, asking
    Front) government-both in the 1980s and in 1997-             some pretty simple questions, making some
     98. She concludes, "Globalization will be almost            choices, and getting people to support your ideas."
     irreversible as it widens and deepens. The result-          Pretty heady stuff, indeed!
     ant pan-global power that can cause sharp                       In many ways, reading Making Sense of Strategy
     changes with lightning speed may become a po-               is like carrying on a conversation while jogging
     tential source of great harm to mankind if global-          with a friend. Only a few words are used to convey
                                                                 much information. While promising that his book
     ization fails due to indiscipline or sheer immensity
     of corporate power."                                        may be the last business book we will need to
                                                                 read, Tony Manning suggests it should probably
        Overall, Taking on the World: Globalization
                                                                 be the first. In three chapters covering Content,
     Strategies in Malaysia offers a rich source of infor-
                                                                 Concepts, and Process, the book attempts to
     mation, insights, and suggestions both for manag-
                                                                 present a holistic view of management. Manning
     ers and for organizational leaders who wish to
                                                                 is the former chairman and CEO of McCann-Erick-
     understand globalization and globalization strate-
                                                                  son in South Africa and a former senior marketing
     gies in Malaysia. The book is a result of Professor
                                                                 executive with Coca-Cola. His experiences and
     Sieh's four years of active research and reflection
                                                                 practical view of business combine to make an
     on the subject. The perspective she brings to this           interesting and thought-provoking discussion of
     book is certainly unique. The book should be read            strategic management. The result is a book that
     by managers who truly want to encourage global-              focuses on simple explanations and a bias for
     ization and are willing to make the changes nec-             i mplementation.
i    essary for that to happen. In addition, the book is              Manning argues that the context of each busi-
     recommended for graduate courses such as inter-              ness is a series of managed conversations. That is,
     national marketing management, international                 people in organizations spend a huge amount of
     business management, and international human                 time talking with each other, suppliers, customers,
     resource management. Finally, this book will be              and other key stakeholders. In order to shape these
     interesting to anyone wishing more information               conversations to be positive and productive, stra-
     about globalization.                                         tegic managers must: (1) make choices, (2) win
                                                                                                                           j
2002                                                Book Reviews                                               157


"votes," and (3) build capacity. In regard to the first,    are your key ideas based? That is, are you simply
managers must make decisions on which markets               guessing about the underlying assumptions, or do
and customers to solicit. "Winning" votes means             you know for sure? For example, when we believe
persuading your stakeholders to participate ac-             that our competition will not match our next initia-
tively in implementing your choices. Building ca-           tive for any number of reasons, do we know this or
pacity focuses on developing your organization to           do we hope this? The difference is the basis for
compete creatively and adjust to changes quickly            either strategic success or failure.
in a dynamic business environment. According to                Once the importance of underlying assumptions
Manning, there are two important things to know             is understood, we are able to focus on Manning's
and not forget: "You have to be exceptionally good          systematic approach to planning. He suggests five
at something" and "You don't have to know every-            building blocks to effective strategic management
thing." He takes these two simple statements and            beginning with "Why do we exist?" (exploring or-
then explores industry life cycles, S curves, and the       ganizational purpose), followed by questions
outside-in versus the inside-out schools of strate-         designed to examine the business recipe, organ-
gic thinking. The result is a simple equation for           izational character, goals/priorities/actions, and
success: "Information + imagination + inspira-              strategic conversations. Manning provides four
tion + action = results."                                   questions in each of the "Big Five," thus conclud-
   Given the above content issues, Manning exam-            ing the book with 20 strategy questions that "em-
ines the concepts of strategy. At the top of the list is    brace the vital issues and ensure that you think
the need to maintain growth because it encour-              through your strategy in a methodical way. But
ages organizational fitness, excites employees,             equally important, they add up to a strategic
grabs the attention of customers, and makes in-             conversation that will let you make a difference.
vestors happy. Of course, growth cannot occur               Use them to analyze your current situation and to
according to Manning unless you are able to focus           explore future possibilities."
resources, enhance customer value, and lower                   Making Sense of Strategy is a brief but highly
cost-all at the same time. The author says it sim-          useful discussion of modern strategic manage-
ply and best: "If you don't make a difference, you          ment from the perspective of an experienced prac-
don't matter!"                                              titioner. Tony Manning is able to take many com-
   Perhaps one of the most useful discussions in            monly held ideas in strategy and weave them into
Making Sense of Strategy is the link between strat-         a simple, yet elegant tapestry for appreciating the
egy formulation (thinking) and execution (doing).           art of management. His advice is direct, yet not
"As long as strategy and change management are              overbearing. At the end of the book, serious man-
kept in different boxes, there will be a costly dis-        agers will likely feel the same invigoration and
connect between them. But you can close the gap             excitement as that following a three-mile jog. The
by thinking of strategy as change management."              book is recommended for MBA programs, espe-
In his four-step process for linking strategy and           cially executive MBA programs, and all managers
change management, Manning states that to treat             who doubt their impact on the long-term success of
the two concepts as "separate activities is to set          the firm. For anyone wishing to make an organiza-
yourself up for failure."                                   tion more effective, reading Making Sense of Strat-
   Oftentimes the strategy literature discusses             egy will be an hour well spent.
changing the organizational culture as part of the
change-management process. Manning acknowl-
edges the importance of culture change but sug-              The Quest for Global Dominance:
gests that changing behavior, rather than attitude,
is the first consideration in getting workers to think
                                                             Transforming Global Presence into
differently. "Your priority should be to change not          Global Competitive Advantage
what people think but what they do. That way,
they'll discover that 'the way we do things around          Reviewed by Alan M. Rugman, Indiana University
here' is not cast in stone and that other ways work
better. And, over time, your organization's culture             The Quest for Global Dominance: Transforming
will change."                                                Global Presence into Global Competitive Advan-
   The final section of the book covers the process          tage by Vijay Govindarajan and Anil Gupta is a
of strategy, what Manning describes as a process             well-written managerial version of the authors' ac-
of questioning. In this regard, he argues that one           ademic research on the currently popular topic of
question should be the foundation of all strategic           how to develop a global strategy. The main insights
questioning in the company: On what assumptions              in the book come from their extensive analysis of the

				
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