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The Best Novels and Plays About Business: Results of a Survey

In Arts & Letters, Humanities, Literature, News and Current Events on June 12, 2013 at 8:45 am

Edward W. Younkins

Edward W. Younkins is the founder of the undergraduate major in Political and Economic Philosophy at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. He is also the founding director of the university’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) and Master of Science in Accountancy (M.S.A.) programs. In addition to earning state and national honors on the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exams, respectively, Dr. Younkins also received the Outstanding Educator Award for 1997 from the West Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants. Professor Younkins has written a number of articles in free-market-oriented journals and is the author of Capitalism and Commerce: Conceptual Foundations of Free Enterprise (2002) and Flourishing and Happiness in a Free Society (2011).

My Koch Research Fellows, Jomana Krupinski and Kaitlyn Pytlak, and I conducted a survey of 250 Business and Economics professors and 250 English and Literature professors. Colleges and universities were randomly selected and then professors from the relevant departments were also randomly selected to receive our email survey. They were asked to list and rank from 1 to 10 what they considered to be the best novels and plays about business. We did not attempt to define the word “best” leaving that decision to each respondent. We obtained sixty-nine usable responses from Business and Economics professors and fifty-one from English and Literature professors. A list of fifty choices was given to each respondent and an opportunity was presented to vote for works not on the list. When tabulating the results, ten points were given to a novel or play in a respondent’s first position, nine points were assigned to a work in the second position, and so on, down to the tenth listed work which was allotted one point. The table below presents the top twenty-five novels and plays for each group of professors. Interestingly, fifteen works made both top-25 lists. These are noted in bold type.

Business and   Economics Professors

 

English and   Literature Professors

1.   Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

457

1.   Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller

282

2.   The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand

297

2.   Bartleby: The Scrivener, Herman   Melville

259

3.   The Great Gatsby, F. Scott   Fitzgerald

216

3.   The Great Gatsby, F. Scott   Fitzgerald

231

4.   Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller

164

4.   The Jungle, Upton Sinclair

143

5.   Time   Will Run Back, Henry Hazlitt

145

5.   Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis

126

6.   The Jungle, Upton Sinclair

136

6.   Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet

121

7.   The Gilded Age, Mark Twain and   Charles Dudley Warner

95

7.   The   Rise of Silas Lapham, William Dean Howells

98

8.   Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet

89

8.   American Pastoral, Philip Roth

85

9.   God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Kurt   Vonnegut, Jr.

57

9.   The   Confidence Man, Herman Melville

75

10. Other   People’s Money, Jerry Sterner

57

10. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand

75

11. Bartleby: The Scrivener, Herman   Melville

55

11. A   Hazard of New Fortunes, William Dean Howells

66

12. A Man   in Full, Tom Wolfe

48

12. The Octopus, Frank Norris

65

13. Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis

47

13. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

62

14. The Man   in the Gray Flannel Suit, Sloan Wilson

43

14. Nice   Work, David Lodge

62

15. Rabbit is Rich, John Updike

41

15. The Big   Money, John Dos Passos

59

16. Major   Barbara, George Bernard Shaw

39

16. The Gilded Age, Mark Twain and   Charles Dudley Marner

58

17. Dombey and Son, Charles Dickens

33

17. Rabbit is Rich, John Updike

55

18. The Goal,   Eliyahu M. Goldratt

33

18. Seize   the Day, Saul Bellow

55

19. The   Driver, Garet Garrett

32

19. Mildred   Pierce, James M. Gain

54

20. Executive   Suite, Cameron Hawley

32

20. The   Financier, Theodore Dreiser

53

21. The Way   We Live Now, Anthony Trollope

32

21. Dombey and Son, Charles Dickens

51

22. American Pastoral, Philip Roth

29

22. Sometimes a Great Notion, Ken   Kesey

45

23. The Octopus, Frank Norris

29

23. The   Last Tycoon, F. Scott Fitzgerald

44

24. Sometimes a Great Notion, Ken   Kesey

28

24. The Moviegoer,   Walker Percy

43

25. North   and South, Elizabeth Gaskell

27

25. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Kurt   Vonnegut, Jr.

39

 

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  1. great booklist!

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