This book is to be warmly welcomed if we are serious in management education when we claim to provide a European dimension in post-graduate courses. It is what the title claims: a book of case studies on finance, corporate finance to be more precise, and one of the series of European Casebooks on Management. Those who have inaugurated this series and the publishers deserve our thanks. However, this can only be a beginning: Harvard Business School case studies have a deserved reputation and are well established in British management schools. It will naturally take time for an alternative series of studies to replace the market dominance they have achieved. This volume is directed at those on specialised masters courses, although it contains contributions that would be of interest to undergraduates. It has several prestigious contributors - indeed this is one of the hallmarks of the book - it is competitively priced and has not become dated.
The book is organised into three parts: alliances, acquisitions, privatisations; corporate finance and restructuring; and risk management. Each part has an explanatory introduction and a good range of cases. The cases, and the situations they illustrate, are both topical and useful. Slotted between the studies are two short contributions that add to the book: "An overview of foreign direct investment into the UK" and "Calculating numbers of futures and option contracts required for hedging".
The quality of case-study writing is improving in Europe thanks to a competition organised by the European Foundation for Management Development. Although some may suggest that this is not a legitimate academic activity it has an important value for teaching purposes. Anyone who reads a book of this type is immediately impressed by the diversity of circumstances encountered in the European Union. European corporate managers need a good understanding of the business culture in each country in which they function, as well as some knowledge of European Union and national institutions and regulations. Sometimes this is gained at the undergraduate stage but much of it comes from learning and experience in post. For masters students these studies will add to their appreciation of the complexities that cultural differences, European Union and Government regulation and policies impose on strategic decisions. Most of the studies in this book include the national, European and international context in which the firm operates.
Not everyone utilises case studies in teaching, but, if used properly, systematically and with clear outcomes, they can aid management development in postgraduate courses when used in groups. Skills in negotiating, interaction with colleagues, and oral presentation do need developing throughout a career. Lecturers need these skills too if there is to be maximum benefit to students. Furthermore, to put it bluntly, managers with a financial background need to acquire these skills more than most.
Roger Fox is economics subject group leader, University of Greenwich.
European Casebook on Finance
Author - Paul Stonham and Keith Redhead
ISBN - 0 13 291030 6
Publisher - Prentice Hall
Price - £17.95
Pages - 503