James Clawson's Book Recommendations

Reading List:


"This is perhaps the best book I've ever read. Csikszentmihalyi builds on the work of Dawkins, Brodie, and others who've described "meme" theory, and describes the power of "nurture" in human experience and behavior. His insights about the importance of recognizing the "memes" or beliefs that each of us have gotten from our ancestry and of "transcending" them by becoming adults and choosing consciously those that work and discarding those that don't is the central issue in human relations throughout the globe today. He gives an answer to the question: how can we rise above millennia of genetic and memetic cultural momentum?"

• CHOICE THEORY by William Glasser

"Glasser's simple and powerful description of "control theory" and how it develops in infants sets the stage for much of human relations and behavior in organizations worldwide. In one stroke he explains dictators, whining victims, and everyone in between."

• A GUIDE TO RATIONAL LIVING by Albert Ellis and Robert Harper

"Ellis's pure insight into why people behave the way they do and why they respond to others the way they do-including his preface on E-Prime Language-are superb. If everyone could learn and use E-prime language, conflict in the world would virtually disappear."


"Schein has been a prolific writer of classics in the field of human behavior. This one outlines the structure of organization cultures and more importantly how to "see" them and lead them. If the sea of managers trying to manage their organizational cultures would pause long enough to read this, they'd be much better armed mentally and behaviorally to lead."


"There is nothing one can "do" with this book except understand the ground upon which you stand. What Csikszentmihalyi did for social behavior summarizing all the great currents into one grand point, Greene has done for the physical sciences, explaining in terms my teenagers can understand about where the world came from and why things are the way they are. Despite the seemingly "impractical" nature of this insight for most of us, I find myself referring to "relativity" in business school classes as we talk about problem identification and solutions. If you really want to know about the world in which you live, this is must reading."

• GATES OF FIRE by Steven Pressfield

"This is an historical fiction account of the war training of Spartan youths prior to the Battle of Thermopylae (the Gates of Fire) which took place about 481 B.C. The description of the memetic and genetic conditioning that went into preparing a society to focus on totally on war and killing is stupefying."

• GATE TO WOMEN'S COUNTRY by Sherri Tepper

"In this novel, the women of the world band together following a nuclear holocaust to systematically and secretly breed out the war-like genetic tendencies of most men. Think about it! What if people got "tired" of the seemingly endless cycle of human conflict? The whole of recorded human history is a series of conquests and wars-even, and perhaps especially, in our scriptures! How could we "transcend" this?"

Biographical Info:

Professor of Business Administration James G. Clawson heads Darden's Leadership and Organizational Behavior Area. He also teaches and leads several Executive Education programs. His research addresses issues of leadership, career management, management development, and mentoring. He has authored four books, numerous articles, and written or supervised the writing of more than 100 cases. Clawson has consulted with a number of corporations and organizations on organizational design, management development, career management, managing change, leadership development, and human resource management. He also has taught at the International University of Japan as a visiting professor. Before joining the Darden faculty in 1981, Clawson taught at Harvard Business School, worked as a functional trainer for Mobil Oil Company in Japan, and served as an international banking officer for Wells Fargo Bank.

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