Koch Research Fellows Ed Younkins, Jomana Krupinski, and Kaitlyn Pytlak have shared with me the results of a survey they conducted of 250 Business and Economics professors and 250 English and Literature professors. They asked these two groups of professors to rank the best novels and plays about business. The top 25 from each group are listed separately in the table below. What makes the results particularly interesting is that 15 titles appear on both lists, indicating a surprising level of agreement between the two groups of professors. But the two groups did not rank the 15 the same and each selected 10 other books the other group did not, so there was significant disagreement as well.
Colleges and universities were randomly selected and then professors from the relevant departments were also randomly selected to receive an 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. The researchers did not attempt to define the word “best,” leaving that decision to each respondent. They obtained 69 usable responses from Business and Economics professors and 51 from English and Literature professors. A list of 50 choices was given to each respondent and an opportunity was presented to vote for works not on the list. When tabulating the results, 10 points were given to a novel or play in a respondent’s first position, 9 points were assigned to a work in the second position, and so on, down to the tenth listed work which was allotted 1 point.
Ed Younkins is a fellow Aristotelian libertarian. He’s done a great deal of excellent work on synthesizing Aristotelianism, Objectivism, and Austrian Economics. His books include Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companion (edited), Capitalism and Commerce: Conceptual Foundations of Free Enterprise, and Flourishing and Happiness in a Free Society. His next book, Exploring Capitalist Fiction: Business Through Literature and Film, is being published by Lexington Books in late 2013 or early 2014. You can find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ed.younkins.
The Best Novels and Plays About BusinessTop 25 survey results from two groups of professors. Fifteen works are present in both lists, indicated by bold titles. Point totals are listed in the column to the right of each title.
Business and Economics Professors
English and Literature Professors
|1. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand||457||1. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller||282|
|2. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand||297||2. Bartleby: The Scrivener by Herman Melville||259|
|3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald||216||3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald||231|
|4. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller||164||4. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair||143|
|5. Time Will Run Back by Henry Hazlitt||145||5. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis||126|
|6. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair||136||6. Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet||121|
|7. The Gilded Age by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner||95||7. The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells||98|
|8. Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet||89||8. American Pastoral by Philip Roth||85|
|9. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.||57||9. The Confidence Man by Herman Melville||75|
|10. Other People's Money by Jerry Sterner||57||10. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand||75|
|11. Bartleby: The Scrivener by Herman Melville||55||11. A Hazard of New Fortunes by William Dean Howells||66|
|12. A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe||48||12. The Octopus by Frank Norris||65|
|13. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis||47||13. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand||62|
|14. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson||43||14. Nice Work by David Lodge||62|
|15. Rabbit is Rich by John Updike||41||15. The Big Money by John Dos Passos||59|
|16. Major Barbara by George Bernard Shaw||39||16. The Gilded Age by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner||58|
|17. Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens||33||17. Rabbit is Rich by John Updike||55|
|18. The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt||33||18. Seize the Day by Saul Bellow||55|
|19. The Driver by Garet Garrett||32||19. Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain||54|
|20. Executive Suite by Cameron Hawley||32||20. The Financier by Theodore Dreiser||53|
|21. The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope||32||21. Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens||51|
|22. American Pastoral by Philip Roth||29||22. Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey||45|
|23. The Octopus by Frank Norris||29||23. The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald||44|
|24. Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey||28||24. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy||43|
|25. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell||27||25. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.||39|
Now, these works are not necessarily libertarian. The professors who took the survey are probably for the most part not libertarian. And there is not much in the way of speculative fiction on these lists.
So what would you include or not include in the category of “best novels and plays about business”? Was anything overlooked? or given more recognition than it deserves? Given the overlap, what do you think accounts for the differences in the two lists?