Best MBA Textbooks

November 22, 2011

In this section of my site I am collecting all the required textbooks and recommended reading by the professors in all of my classes throughout the MBA program I took at George Washington University School of Business. I also added some books that were not in the original recommended list on the syllabus, but popped up during classroom discussions with instructors and my classmates. Plus a few books I came across on my own that I think could add value to the overall MBA learning experience. Collectively, these books probably make a mark of some of the best MBA textbooks used in business schools across the USA.

I put this list together so you could have an insight into the materials used in the MBA programs. Also, if there are extreme Do-It-Yourself-ers out there who want to gain the knowledge of the MBA without doing the actual MBA, they could easily 😉 do it on their own by using this list. Warning: it will still set you back by quite a few thousands of dollars :-( , even if you only buy required textbooks.

From the vastness of the list you can easily deduce that I would not have time to read every single one of them from cover to cover. From the required textbooks I did my best to read assigned chapters (should I mention here that I failed to do that more often than I am willing to admit). Some of the recommended books I used as reference and skimmed selected chapters, others I did not have a chance to read at all, but they came highly recommended either by the professor or the classmates. So those books are on my personal wish list for reading in the future.

The list is not complete with all subjects as you go through it, and I will be adding more subjects and books regularly, until I have all of them on the list. Also, take into account that this list is a snapshot in time when I was taking the class. By the time you may read the list, the title of the book may change and most likely there is a more recent edition of the book on the market and in the classrooms. So, make adjustments accordingly.

Another important note – this list is neither exclusive nor exhaustive. Other business schools, and even other sections within the MBA program taught by a different professor  could use different textbooks. Nevertheless, the list is exemplary and gives comprehensive and accurate insight into the materials used in MBA programs in many business schools in the USA.

I also give my personal rating of the book on a scale of five hearts. The rating is very subjective and reflects in part the easiness of the language, my personal interest in subject, comprehensibility, book organization, book presentation.

Therefore, for each subject there can be up to three categories of books:

  • Required MBA textbook(s)
  • Recommended MBA reading (by the professor)
  • Optional reading


Financial Accounting

Required Textbook:

Financial Accounting: An Introduction to Concepts, Methods and Uses – ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  Comment: I found this book relatively user-friendly. If not for the fact that Accounting was not my best friend, I would probably give it five hearts.

Optional Reading:

The Accounting Game: Basic Accounting Fresh from the Lemonade Stand
– ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Comment: For those of you who are poets and have not had exposure to accounting prior to entering the MBA, here is an introductory ice-breaking book that I highly recommend to read before embarking on the heart-breaking subject of accounting. To this book I wholeheartedly give five hearts. To read a bit more extended review on this great book go to my Pre-MBA Reading List for Poets.

Data Analysis/Statistics

Required Textbook:

Data Analysis and Decision Making with Microsoft Excel, Revised (with CD-ROM and Decision Tools and Statistic Tools Suite)♥ ♥ 

Comment: I have a soft spot for statistics, even though I am a poet. Even though I had to struggle through the course, I still liked it. There is something fascinating for me in being able to dissect the past data and try to make forecast for the future based on numbers. Using hard numbers and scientifically-looking formulas gives those prognoses an air of legitimacy. This textbook, however, does not do good service to the subject from the poet’s perspective. It is very dry, very dense, rather hard to understand. It was apparently designed by and for people with very strong quantitative set of mind. I got so frustrated with the book, that I asked professor to recommend an easier introductory text on statistics.

My professor was a math buff and he really tried to feel for me, so he recommended another book Complete Business Statistics (McGraw-Hill/Irwin Series Operations and Decision Sciences), that, in his opinion, would be easier to digest. I actually bought that book, and found it to be not easier at all. It was, though, a bit thinner. Read my post with more details on comparison of these two textbooks.

Optional Reading:

Basic Statistics: Tales of Distributions (with CD-ROM)♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

While I was struggling with the two statistics textbooks mentioned above, I found this book which was in fact very helpful in getting me understand and appreciate graduate level statistics. You can find more detailed description of it in my post re-MBA Reading List for Poets. The language and presentation of this textbook is much easier to understand and you have a chance to actually tolerate if not fall in love with statistics.