by Nicole Chacin

Having a firm grasp on how the economy works is a great asset to have and can open up many professional opportunities as well as provide stability and comfort later in life when making vital financial decisions. History, political science, or economics can shed light on a portion of the elaborate puzzle our economy is today.

As a part of business you will come to understand how the marketplace determines every kind of transaction imaginable, and how we as consumers and service and/or product providers all play a role whether we like it or not. Here’s three books I have read which provide both general overview and specific examples of the factors and trends shaping our marketplace:

The World is Flat: The Globalized World in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas L. Friedman

The World is Flat addresses the vast technological and human integrations of our generation. Friedman discusses ten convergences, or “flatteners,” which make the world seem more flat and connected via a single network. It is not merely a phenomenon of new “players” in business, but a new playing field and new processes to conduct business.

In chronological order, Friedman discusses the causes for the convergences: business enhancing software, outsourcing, off-shoring, supply-chaining, in-sourcing, and “mobil-me” practices of the twenty-first century.

This read will greatly enhance understanding of the global marketplace for those just learning, and for those more informed, it will provide more insight and support for your growing knowledge of the system. 

Free to Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton and Rose Friedman

Free to Choose by economist and Nobel Prize winner Milton Freidman and his wife Rose Friedman is a read rich in both economic history, policy, and its application over the years.

The book reminds readers of the economic policies on which our country was founded, citing the Declaration of Independence, founding father Thomas Jefferson, and economist and author of Wealth of Nations Adam Smith throughout the book. The book contrasts these founding principles with the present day system we have today.

The book attempts to answer why some countries fail and why some succeed through usage of economic philosophy.

Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power by Steve Coll

Private Empire by Steve Coll is a great complement to the first two reads, which explore theories and trends. It illuminates the complexities of constructing a business model in a global marketplace where there are a lot of factors out of one’s control.

In fact, more often than not, this book shows how business politics and private interests often clash with those of the nation and the non-Western world in which companies travel to conduct their operations. Private Empire is the story of an American owned enterprise, which happens to be the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company: ExxonMobil.

This engaging read at times feels like a narrative account with direct quotes from members of the company, providing an insider’s look into the reorganization the company underwent after the Alaska Valdez spill.

From competing with politically unstable state-owned oil giants in countries to confronting the energy demands and environmental concerns of the Western world, Private Empire provides a great case study for the struggles international companies face when trying to preserve the values, standards, and belief system of their country of origin.

Overall, all three books explain and detail the economic marketplace we live in, and all three I think you will find complement each other. These books will inspire further study and reflection as you continue your business education.

The global marketplace is a complex subject to digest, but one I know you will find rewarding to better understand.

Nicole Chacin is a Chicago native and student at the George Washington University where she studies business administration. Nicole aims to obtain a dual masters degree in Law and Business Administration by 2017 and ultimately dreams of working in health policy and administration.  This is Nicole’s 2nd year writing for Forté as she had the opportunity to learn about the organization through the first Forté C2B Leadership Conference.