01 Jun 2014

Book Review: Hooray for the Huddled Masses

Re: Fariborz Ghadar (MBA 1972); Norb Vonnegut (MBA 1986); Ethan Bernstein; Anita Elberse
by Maureen Harmon


Fariborz Ghadar (MBA 1972, DBA 1976) could have walked away from the American dream at any point. It could have been the moment his fraternity brothers at MIT decided they couldn't pronounce his name and called him "Bob." It could have been when he was forced to close a business he worked so hard to create. But life in America, which began when he left Iran as a one-year-old, taught him about the qualities that immigrants bring to the country—perseverance, entrepreneurialism, a willingness to adapt to new cultures—that made it possible, he says, for the United States to thrive.

Ghadar's new book, Becoming American: Why Immigration Is Good for Our Nation's Future, weaves in stories of successful immigrant economists, entrepreneurs, and government advisers while debunking myths that surround immigration. For example, according to the Congressional Budget Office, a path to legalization for some immigrants could add billions to government coffers rather than be a drain on the economy. Nor have fears of immigrants as national security threats been borne out.

Revised immigration policies would boost the economy in other ways, too; Ghadar notes that immigrants helped launch 25 percent of US tech and engineering companies between 1995 and 2005 and generated 450,000 jobs in 2005. Such contributions, Ghadar says, could help America climb from its current No. 5 spot in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report back to No. 1.

The facts that Ghadar presents throughout the book, backed by his experience as founding director of Penn State's Center for Global Business Studies and distinguished scholar and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, make his call to action hard to ignore. Immigration policies rooted in common sense, he says, will—in the long run—benefit the United States as well as the 42 million immigrants who call this country home.



"New York City—I don't miss it. Not one bit. The streets reek of food carts and gas fumes, and the smell of garbage is ferocious during the summer when the city turns into a concrete sauna. Outside my former office at Gulag Sachs, if you tilted your head at just the right angle and paid careful attention, you'd get a strong whiff of anxiety from desperate people who couldn't wait to get the hell off the hamster wheel."
— Jack Legare, the hero of Goddesses and Doormats, the forthcoming thriller by Norb Vonnegut (MBA 1986)


What I'm Reading

"An LA native, I thought I understood the entertainment industry—that is, until I read HBS professor Anita Elberse's new book, Blockbusters. Elberse distills riveting insider stories about celebrities like Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, and LeBron James into novel strategy lessons about the growing "market" for superstars. As an alum imbued with HBS's mission to educate leaders who make a difference in the world, I understand from Elberse's revealing narrative that superstars and blockbusters may now be key ingredients for the impact we aim to have as leaders."
Assistant Professor Ethan Bernstein (MBA/JD 2002, DBA 2013), Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment, by Anita Elberse


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