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Rating details. More filters. Sort order. In general, it was quite helpful for me to get familiar with the business environment in Switzerland, and the history behind the most successful business cases. However, I think the main claim of the author is misleading. To be more specific, the book is not really going to explain the dynamics and factors that made Switzerland such a great country, but it just exaggerates the reasons behind the success of large and well-known firms, a business approach that exaggerates achievements or reaching to conclusions not easily derived from evidence.
In other words, there are lots of factors present in other countries, and the author is not able to explain why the case of Switzerland is different from other countries. And sometimes it seems the author is a pro-Swiss and confuses this bias with the reality. For instance, in the case of Schmidheiny he asserts Swiss believe money is responsibility and they have built foundations to do their responsibilities, without addressing the role of foundations to avoid tax, or any justification that why money is different in other countries!
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In controversial cases, such as Le Corbusier, I was expecting to see a more analytical approach and more comprehensive analysis of the achievements as well as controversies. But the book simply focuses on some of his well-known works and names a few more famous architects. In addition, there are lots of cases especially in the ICT chapter not even successful and it is not clear why there are included in this book. They just made the book so lengthy and tedious at some points, and its length could be half by only focusing on the most important cases. To sum, the book claims it wants to answer three questions as why Switzerland is successful, is this success sustainable, and what can the others learn?
These are really difficult questions to answer, and maybe economists or political scientists can partially answer them partially. By providing the cases of achievements without delving into more structural factors, it would be difficult to convince the reader we have answered these questions.
Maybe the last chapter can be helpful, since the author addresses some of these issues, but the discussions and answers are not convincing. For instance, it does not explain the Swiss political system, and the mechanism or culture behind direct democracy; therefore, there is no systemic analysis or big picture to explain why this is a stable country. Some thoughts on selected chapters: The first chapters were really exciting. The chapter on the Swiss watch industry was very informative and insightful. The chapter on commodity traders was very thought-provoking. Especially the case of Marc Rich, although the author does not take a neutral approach and simply scratches the surface of such a controversial case; but one can easily read between the lines and better grasp the complicated situation of Swiss firms during the colonial period and benefiting from the conflicts around the world.
But these interesting chapters did not last until the end. The chapter on textile industry became repetitive, by explaining Switzerland was not in special position or even lost the game, but nowadays is the center of luxury businesses due to its current position. The chapter on banking showed how bank secrecy and corruption helped Switzerland to brand itself as the center of banking in the world. And how Swiss competencies can be interpreted as political advantages and lobbying power.
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