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‘How Google Works’ Book Review

The book review written by Brad Stone published in the New York Times of How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg notes that the book itself gives little insight into the way Google works, and that it was just plain “ingenuous” at times. I myself read the article to particularly consider how the search engine worked and did not find it here. However, the book is a media source that gives insight into how Google the company is presented by some of its very top members.

Stone gave a quick run-through of the book–it particularly mentioned the “disregard for conventional management practices” and the search for “smart creatives” leading their new management framework. Here, we see a standard case of information cascades as increasing influence, as these ideas of innovative and outside-the-box ways of running companies and such “have hardened into conventional wisdom”. We can think of Google as one sole company, on major power, in this schema. Smaller companies pop up in the Silicon Valley, all adopting the methodology of Google, which has great influence. Eventually, with more companies having this methodology, this becomes the new standard.

It is in a way why few companies remain at the top with a lot of power–precisely because they were progenitors and have the most power from their influence.

Moving onto the critique of the book, that the “supposed lessons are annoyingly trivial”, I found it to be relevant when one considered the market strategies and such we discussed in class, though in an arguable indirect way. Stone says:

“…my biggest knock against “How Google Works” is that it sugarcoats or just plain omits much about what really goes on inside arguable the world’s most influential company. Both Schmidt and Rosenberg lost responsibility at Google as Larry Page reasserted control in 2011 and publicly declared that he was pursuing a faster pace of innovation…. readers want an honest accounting of our most important institutions and react badly to politically cautious posturing, especially when that are paying for it.”

But in a sense, it is possible that publicly describing conflict within the company would create a greater negative effect on Google, as instability within companies would influence stocks, etc. The information asymmetry readers are presented is disguised by the book title and the fact that the book is described as a kind of inspirational read. Amazon reviews itself gives a 4.5/5 rating to the book which might suggest that the readers didn’t react so badly after all. Overall, the review’s topic gives hints to information cascades and game theory of market strategy that we discussed in class. It’s clear the book could delve into more itself.

Blog Post 3, posted Dec. 3 & edited Dec. 7 to add a tid-bit


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