At IIM Calcutta and many other business schools, the second year is only about electives. We have a great range of electives, and I will not be able to justice to all of these in this post. Yet, I have tried to consider important ones from each discipline.
Also, the second year is a lot about how professors use the case studies/books provided by them in the curriculum. So the textbooks play a complementary role usually. Here is a list of electives and their textbooks that are popular at IIM Calcutta:
- Competitive Strategy, Michael E. Porter: This is widely considered the Bible of strategy. He did revolutionise this field with the model of Five Forces. The book goes on to explain the life cycles, strategic choices and how to implement the framework for competitor analysis. A thorough understanding of this is useful to a manager entering any sector. The fact that this model has stood strong for so many decades is testimony to its foresightedness
- Zero to One, Peter Thiel: There is some dichotomy here. Firstly, this is more a book than a textbook. Secondly, a textbook for entrepreneurship seems contradictory. But that being said, reading this does certainly broaden one’s horizons. True, you would not understand much about startups until you get your own hands dirty. But the book provides intriguing insights from a great entrepreneur/
- Options, Futures and Other Derivatives, Hull, Basu: Any finance student worth her/his salt has to read this well. This explains how derivatives work in mathematical terms. For an understanding of the markets, it is essential to see how the math works because that is what it is at the end of the day. Each chapter provides ample problems for practice along with a solution manual. Most of the math is simple and easily understandable.
- Bond Markets, Analysis and Strategies, Frank J. Fabozzi: This is a somewhat niche field. As our professor said, it is a field that provides high returns for people who pursue it but it is not seen as glamorous. The book explains how bonds work, how their prices and yields change and why it is important for our understanding. It is also pertinent to add here that this is a tough course to comprehend and requires in-depth study.
- The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, C. K. Prahalad: He brought an entirely new perspective and target group into vogue when he delved into this topic. This book explains why it is not at all a bad idea for even profit making bodies to see the bottom of the pyramid as a target group for themselves. As part of this course, we also went out talking to such consumers. That really did change our understanding of who we considered a typical consumer. This is a field that has had huge FMCGs very interested in over the last decade or so. Given India’s huge market, interest is bound to continue to rise.
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