Best Business Books 2011

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January break looms large and with it time to open a good book or charge up the kindle for a great business read.  What do writers at the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and various business blogs recommend you pick up to stretch your brain and enlighten your imagination?  Here are a few of their selections that I will be reading or purchasing for friends and family members:

Biography:
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

Decision Points by George W. Bush

Culture and History
On China
by Henry Kissenger

Civilization: the West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson

How the West Was Lost by Dambisa Moyo

Finance
Models.Behaving.Badly by Emanuel Derman

The Futures: the Rise of Speculators and the Origins of the World’s Biggest Markets by Emily Lambert

Leadership:
Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader by Linda A. Hill and Kent L. Lineback

Why are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders? by Jeffrey Cohn and Jay Moran

Management:
The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer

Fixing the Game: Bubbles, Crashes and What Capitalism Can Learn from the NFL by Roger L. Martin

Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen

Necessary Endings: the Employees, Businesses, and Relationships that All of Us Need to Give Up In Order to Move Forward by Henry Cloud

Marketing
We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World by Simon Mainwaring

Strategy
Good Strategy, Bad Strategy
by Richard Rumelt

Technology
In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy

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Locating Annual Reports and Financial Data

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Some of the information in this post may be out of date. Please speak to a librarian for more up to date information. 

This time of year many students are searching for annual reports, 10k reports filed with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), or specific types of financial data (e.g., financial ratios, dividends paid, revenue comparisons).  Students may also be searching for financial data on a particular company’s leading competitors.   A company’s Investor Relations link on its website is a great place to begin locating financial data.  Often times on busy retail websites, this type of information is located under a link at the bottom of the corporate page, since the site’s first priority is to advertise and entice users to purchase goods.  For example, take a look at the information provided by Hasbro’s Investors link which is located at the very bottom of the company’s website.  Selecting the company’s  Financial Information link provides access to the latest quarterly reports (10-Qs), the annual reports,  and the 10-K reports filed annually with the SEC.  Although users can access a summary of the company’s financial data, they have limited or no ability to download the data and compare it with data from competitors.  Library databases such as Mergent Online, Hoovers Academic and LexisNexis Academic fill this gap by providing features that make it easy for users to gather and compare financial data.

Mergent Online contains fundamental data on more than 60,000  global publicly traded companies and annual reports for over 300,00 companies worldwide.  (The product  description is available at the corporate website.)  The strengths of Mergent include the depth of its data (15+ years available for most companies), the ability to view extensive calculated ratios (see Hasbro’s financial ratios), the ability to easily obtain current and historical annual reports (see Hasbro’s annual reports), and the ability to easily view comparative competitive data (see Hasbro’s global competitors).  All available data can be downloaded into Excel and a Report Builder feature facilitates building custom reports.

Hoovers Online provides data and information on over 43,000 U.S. and international companies.  The strengths of Hoovers  include the ease of retrieval of 10K reports (see Hasbro’s SEC filings) and the competitive landscape feature which provides quick retrieval of comparative ratios for a company, its major competitors, and the company’s industry (see Hasbro’s competitive landscape).  The My Tools feature provides a link to download available data.

LexisNexis Academic contains a substantial amount of corporate financial data under its Companies tab.  Strengths of LexisNexis include the depth and ease of searching for SEC filings and its Dossier Compare Companies which provides users with an easy way to compare standardized financial data on up to 5 companies.  Data can be downloaded easily into Excel.

Ask a reference librarian if you would like an instruction session reviewing the content and value-added features of Mergent Online, Hoovers Academic and LexisNexis Academic.  These databases make finding and downloading financial data easy, saving you time to review and analyze the data!

ReferenceUSA: Your Source for Finding Competitors and Customers

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Some of the information in this post may be out of date, as the library no longer subscribes to ReferenceUSA. Please speak to a librarian for more up to date information. 

ReferenceUSA, a comprehensive business directory with entries on 14 million businesses ranging in size from small regional “mom and pop” operations to large national and international corporations, provides a search interface that makes this directory a powerful tool for searching for both competitors and potential customers.  Access the database on or off-campus (login with your name and 14-digit barcode number if off-campus) by selecting the database from the Articles & Databases link on the library website.

You will default to the quick search page when you access the database, and though this page will let you quickly search to locate a company or an executive, it is the custom search page that provides powerful searching capabilities.

To locate companies by industry type and located within a particular geographic area:
Select to search by business type (either by major industry group description or by NAICS code) and combine this search with a geography search to retrieve your list of companies.  View this very short video to see how a search is constructed to locate auto body shops in Rhode Island.   Once displayed, the list is sorted alphabetically by towns within the state.  This search is a great way to identify potential customers in a given geographic area.

To locate company competitors:
Select to run a company name search from the quick search page.  When constructing your search, include the company name and the location if you know it.  Run your search and select the headquarters entry if you are searching a large company and want to find competitors for the main business.  Next to the corporate headquarters entry, you will see a corporate family tree icon.  Clicking on this icon will display all the parent company’s subsidiaries and branches.
Once you locate your company, select to display the full company record and expand out the competitor’s report.  This short video will show you how to search a company (example: Hasbro) and view its competitors.

Each individual company record in ReferenceUSA also includes a Management Directory with names of executives that can be used when job searching, Business Demographics that include dollar sales volume and a credit rating, timely Company News articles,  a listing of Brands and Products produced by the company, and link to the current Stock Data (via Google Finance) if the company is publicly-held.

To learn more about ReferenceUSA and its content and search features, Ask a Reference Librarian!

Credo Reference: Your Source for Business Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

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Stuck on a formula you need to understand (but don’t!) for that economics or finance paper?  Need to give some biographical information on a leading economist or understand the function of the IMF?  Studying for a BUS101 exam and want to have a handy source close by to look up some basic business terms?  Look no further than Credo Reference.  This handy virtual reference source resides with the other databases under the Articles & Databases link on the library website Credo has some neat ways to search that you might find useful, such as the concept map (type in a keyword and watch it explode into other terms you may not have thought of) or the gadgets search (a quick and easy way to find definitions, persons, quotations, conversions and more).  The familiar basic or advanced search features are also available, and you can also browse topics or books.

Take a look at these useful books you’ll want to mark for future reference help:

  • Dictionary of Accounting
    This 4th edition is filled with over 6,000 accounting terms with examples and quotations from journals that show words used in context.
  • Dictionary of Economics, Wiley
    2, 200 economics terms presented with easy-to-read charts and illustrations and with definitions geared to the needs of businesspeople and not academic economists.
  • Encyclopedia of the History of American Management
    Key management theories are explained through biographical sketches on the thinkers and practitioners who developed and refined them.  Edward Deming, Amitai Etzioni, Frederick Winslow Taylor, and Peter Drucker are a few of the people you’ll meet in this encyclopedia.
  • Dictionary of Finance and Investment Terms
    This popular book is one of several sources included in the Barron’s Educational Series.  If you break out in a cold sweat at the mention of terms such as derivative and collateralized mortgage obligations, this is the source for you.
  • A Financial History of the United States
    Describes the growth and expansion of the banking, securities and insurance industries in colonial America up to the rapid expansion of the stock market in the 1990s and the World Trade Center attack.

Ask a librarian to learn more about Credo or other business reference materials!

Researching Sports Topics using SPORTDiscus

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Some of the information in this post may be out of date. Please speak to a librarian for more up to date information. 

Researching a sports topic such as the progress made preventing football concussions or increasing the number of women selected to head administrative positions in university athletics?  Check out SPORTDiscus, a new EBSCO database located under the Articles & Databases link on the library website.  SPORTDiscus provides full text article coverage from over 550 journals covering sports and sports medicine topics.  Search features abound in this database.  All of the same useful search limiters available in other EBSCO databases such as Academic Search Premier and Business Source Complete are available in SPORTDiscus.  For example, using the Advanced Search feature (the default), you can limit your search by person or team name, author, title, keyword or subject.  You can also select to limit your search to a particular date and/or a favorite journal title.  Use the thesaurus tab to search authoritative subject terms and automatically add selected terms to your search request.  Selecting the publications tab displays a list of all the publications indexed in SPORTdiscus, along with the date of coverage and an indication of full text availability.

The following hints will help you refine your search results to retrieve the most relevant information:

  • Start with a broad search and browse results to  locate and display a significant article.   Next, select Find Similar Results from the blue side bar to search for and display additional useful articles.
  • Review the subject and keyword terms displayed on key article abstracts.  Use these terms to refine your original search and make it more effective.
  • Read the references listed at the end of relevant articles.  These are the sources the author has used to research and write the article, and you may find valuable material for your own research.  The full text of many of these articles may be available in SPORTDiscus or another library database.

Remember that with EBSCO databases you can mark and save results to a folder and also export results using a selected citation style format (APA, MLA, etc.).

Ask a librarian for help locating or using SPORTDiscus or any of the many databases available to you as a Bryant student!

How to Work with a Reference Librarian

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You have a research paper due for a class, and you understand the reference librarians are great assets for finding information for your paper.  But you have a problem….you’ve never worked with a reference librarian, and you’re a little confused.  You want to acquire the right information, and  ensure you have it when you need it.  How to proceed??

The RAP Request Form
The Research Assistance Program (RAP) form is available to let you make an appointment remotely with a reference librarian.  You can also use this form to submit a research question.  When you need help, simply complete the RAP form.  Try to be as specific as possible when stating your information need, and be sure to let the librarians know when you need the information.  Once you’ve completed the form, click on the Send Request button at the bottom of the page, and a reference librarian (usually the subject specialist covering the subject area you are working on) will contact you within 24 hours of submitting your request.  Click here for additional ways to connect with a reference librarian.

Time Matters!
Whenever you are working with a reference librarian, ALWAYS indicate the timeliness of your question.  Do you need the information immediately, by tomorrow, or within a week?  If the reference librarian knows when you need the information, she/he can prioritize questions accordingly to ensure your information need is met within your time constraints.

Be Specific
Be as specific as possible when stating your information or research need.  For example, the following question–I need information on the primary economic causes attributed to the start of the Civil War–is more productive than–I need information on the Civil War.  Another example–I’m looking for information on IBM’s bonds and when they are due–is more productive than–I need financial information on IBM.

Librarians as Subject Specialists
Every reference librarian will be glad to answer any question you ask–whether in person or remotely.  Librarians, however, are subject specialists, so your research questions will be delegated to the librarian with the most expertise in your subject area of interest.  This is especially true when you are working on a lengthy research project and you want to make an appointment with the librarian who can be most effective in helping you find the information you need.  The drop down box on the Articles & Databases page can help you find the right subject specialist for your need.  Simply select a subject area to display a listing of databases useful for finding information on this subject area as well as the appropriate subject specialist with their contact information.

Your time is valuable, and reference librarians are here to help!  Ask a librarian!  You’ll be glad you did.

In Praise of the Statistical Abstract of the United States

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Students have available to them a plethora of statistical reference sources as undergraduate researchers at Bryant, but one source—the Statistical Abstract of the United States— merits special attention because of its breadth and depth of coverage.  Compiled by the Economics and Statistics Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce, this voluminous annual library of data started with a 1878 print edition and has progressed to become a website freely available to all.  As indicated by its subtitle, The National Data Book, the Statistical Abstract is the best source to start with to locate a span of domestic or international data—from agriculture to banking; government finances to labor; science to transportation, and more.  Students can locate data going back to the original 1878 edition because all of the historical editions are scanned and posted on the website.  The data interval (monthly, quarterly, or annual) depends on the collection period of the government agency, department, bureau or private association responsible for its collection, and students need to be aware that some data, such as that from the U.S. Economic Census, is collected only every 5 years.

The unique value of the Statistical Abstract lies in the fact that for each data chart presented, students can glance at the bottom of the chart to find the original source of the data.  In most cases the original source will have a website available students can access to locate more data or information.   Appendix 1: Guide to Source of Statistics, State Statistical Abstracts, and Foreign Statistical Abstracts provides a listing of primary sources of statistical information for the United States and other countries.  U.S. government sources are listed first, followed by nongovernment sources; the original source of the data is listed, followed by its individual publications.

The Statistical Abstract of the United States makes data identification and collection easy, but after searching, if you still don’t find the statistic you need, Ask a Reference Librarian, they’ll be glad to help!