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Business Exposed: The Naked Truth About What Really Goes on in the World of Business (Financial Times Series) [Paperback]

Freek Vermeulen
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

14 Oct 2010 Financial Times Series

Cutting edge, pithy and provocative, this is a no-holds barred analysis of business today that will entertain and appal you in equal measure.


This entertaining expose of the business world, reveals the scandals, quirks, counter-intuitive behaviour and downright silliness that make up business today. Based on rigorous research and verifiable facts, combining revelation, story-telling and analysis, this book will defy anyone to read it and not emerge better-informed about the reality of business today.


From the collective inertia of middle management to the cowardly reluctance of CEOs to stand out from the crowd, from the soap opera of working with consultants to the mystery of why top executives’ salaries bear no resemblance to the performance of their firms, Business Exposed will entertain and appal you in equal measure.


The author is widely recognised as a new and emerging business guru, speaking of him in 2009, the Financial Times said: “The London Business School associate professor is a rising star and his pithy observations are both accessible and authoritative.”

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Financial Times/ Prentice Hall; 1 edition (14 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0273732927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0273732921
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 108,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Freek Vermeulen is an Associate Professor of Strategic & International Management at the London Business School, where he teaches on the MBA and Executive levels. He has designed and taught some of the School's most successful courses such as Strategic Management, General Management, Strategies for Growth, and Mergers, Acquisitions & Alliances which, in combination, earned him the School's "Best Teacher Award". In addition, in 2008, he was announced as the first ever recipient of London Business School's "Excellence in Teaching Award".

Over the past years, Freek has acted as an advisor and worked on executive programmes for companies such as BP, EDS, The Guardian, the Fiat Group, IBM, KPMG, Lloyd's, Maersk, Novartis, PwC, Roche, Sara Lee, ThyssenKrupp, Toshiba, Vodafone and various others. He is also a much sought-after keynote speaker on company and industry conferences, covering topics such as strategic innovation, execution, stimulating growth and international strategy. In 2009, the Financial Times wrote about Freek: "The London Business School associate professor is a rising star and his pithy observations are both accessible and authoritative".

Freek's research on strategies for growth has been published extensively in highly reputed academic journals, such as the Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly and the Strategic Management Journal. As a result, he received the prestigious "Academy of Management Journal Best Paper Award", particularly for his research on international expansion. In addition, his views on management appeared in global pracitioner outlets, such as the Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, and the Wall Street Journal. He also wrote a popular business blog for the Harvard Business Review (called "Strategy Freek"), which was covered in Business Week, The Washington Post, the Financial Times, among others.

He currently serves on the Editorial Boards of the Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, Strategic Organization and the European Management Review. He is a member of the Strategic Management Society and the Academy of Management and served on the Advisory Council of the Academy of Management Journal. Freek obtained a PhD in business administration ("cum laude") from Tilburg University and a PhD in Organisation Studies from Utrecht University, the Netherlands.

Product Description


A groundbreaking new book that challenges common perceptions. [...] The book is a must-read as it is a wake-up call of sorts for those who have to deal with diverse areas of management. -- Educators' Digest, 2010

Punchy and readable. [...] Interesting and, for a management book, surprisingly readable opinions on corporate strategy. -- The Economist, 2010

[Freek] is not hesitant to reveal the truths he has discovered no matter how much, or whom, it hurts. -- Business Strategy Review, 2010

Believe it or not, there is an Associate Professor of Business Strategy by the name of `Freek'. He's quite a good one, too. `Business Exposed' challenges conventional thinking and seeks to bust some myths. -- People Matters, 2010

This will be uncomfortable reading for many senior bosses.
-- Director Magazine, 2010

From the Back Cover

"... a delicious read, a candy dish of witty reflections about the current state of management in a candid and disarming personal tone. Two thumbs up!"

Gabriel Szulanski, Professor of Strategy, INSEAD

"If the role of CEO is chief storyteller, Vermeulen's role is chief doubter ... You'll never look at business in the same way again."

Stevie Spring, Chief Executive Officer, Future plc

"disrobes the emperor of conventional wisdom to reveal how things really work in the strange business of business ... ."

Costas Markides, Professor and holder of the Robert P. Bauman Chair in Strategic Leadership, London Business School

"Every so often a book comes along that re-frames business, Business Exposed does just that in a face-paced, smart read, chock full of insights that you won't expect."

Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, Stanford Warren Ascherman Professor of Strategy and Organization, Stanford University



Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breath of fresh air 2 Nov 2010
By Peter
I thought this book was just a breath of fresh air. Prof Vermeulen writes about his
own book (referring to the tale of the Emperor's new clothes): "And I guess that's
really what this book is: it's a little boy shouting "he is naked!"Because the world of
business isn't always what it pretends to be. Things aren't as rational, well-organized
and well-oiled as we're told they are. And we sort of know that...".

Business Exposed is very different than any of the other business books I have read.
Those are informative, but often also give you the feeling that they are more of the
same: old wine in new bottles. Vermeulen writes that his book is more "a book about
business" than "a business book" and I think he is right. An ex CEO or management
consultant could never have written this book. He is like a scientist studying a
different civilization, and you learn so much about the world of business from that. I
really recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Don't you get sick of slick recipes for success, pontification and sophistry? No wonder the business shelf at airports has been shrinking. But here is a gem of a book, written with heart, humour, personality and above all, real research evidence coupled with clear thinking. Freek Vermeulen has set a gold standard here, and any aspiring business gurus that follow him will have to rise to the level he has set. The book is also a delight to read - I devoured it in a single sitting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and entertaining 9 Nov 2010
This book really reminded me of Freakonomics. It has the same wow factor to it, in terms of the surprising and unusual insights that it describes. It is also based on solid scientific evidence, like Freakonomics. I really had the feeling I had learned something about the business world by reading it. What is also similar - although the writing styles are definitely not exactly the same - is that it simply reads very well, and is highly entertaining.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing 28 Dec 2010
By JaneR
This book covers a whole range of intriguing questions. There is not one particular topic, but they clearly are all connected. Apparently one of the author's readers - according to the book's epilogue - wrote to him saying "they deal with a side of business seldom talked about", and I think that's probably very true. Here are a number of topics that I wrote down while reading the book:

* The danger of management fads, which he calls `corporate flu' - how they are unlikely to kill the company but will seriously incapacitate it until we shake them off!
* Why companies tend to hire `identi-kit' employees who all act the same and think the same - no matter how damaging
* Why organisations are so obsessed with numbers and measuring everything - ignoring other things that may really be critical for competitive advantage
* The ineffectiveness of many boards and how the dynamics work
* He talks about innovation and the myths about how you become and stay an innovative company and whether innovation is good for company growth
* The positive ROI on `family-friendly' policies and how well Wall St responds to such initiatives - whether they are implemented or not
* The role of investment bankers in encouraging M&As which do not make sense for the acquiring organisation
* Why do most M&As they conduct, fail? And why does this not deter CEOs from further acquisitions?
* What do CEOs really do and how do most spend their time? How much time do they spend with Wall St and does this make sense for the organisation? What drives CEOs' relationships with analysts?
* How is CEO pay established and what influence do they have on their own pay packages? How closely is CEO pay tied to performance?
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why you should really read Business Exposed 18 Dec 2010
How do bad practices prevail in organizations? Why and when is winning an acquisition not really winning? What do managers have in common with monkeys? All these topics are discussed in Business Exposed, a delightful read that takes us into the world of organizations and into the minds of their managers. Professor Vermeulen writes well: his book is fun to read and packed with examples of well-known organizations in a variety of industries. But what is particularly exciting about this book is that it not only entertains but also provides solid academic research findings. Business Exposed delivers relevant and rigorous thoughts about the world of organizations. Whether you are a manager or simply interested in management, this book will surprise you with counter-intuitive facts and sometimes dismaying truths about businesses. A must read!
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