The Emperor's Nightingale: Restoring the Integrity of the Corporation in the Age of Shareholder Activism

The Emperor's Nightingale: Restoring the Integrity of the Corporation in the Age of Shareholder Activism

The Emperor's Nightingale: Restoring the Integrity of the Corporation in the Age of Shareholder Activism

The Emperor's Nightingale: Restoring the Integrity of the Corporation in the Age of Shareholder Activism

Synopsis

In The Emperor's Nightingale, Robert Monks weaves together parables, case studies, and insights from complexity thinking to reveal the true character of the corporation, as it struggles to reconcile the opposing forces of certainty and uncertainty, the predictable and the serendipitous, and short-term profit versus long-term economic value rooted in the social good.

Excerpt

Dean LeBaron

Like the strands of a helix, Bob Monks' life and mine weave in and out, crossing, separating, then crossing again.

Our first intersection was at Harvard University in 1951. We were both underclassmen, shared many friends, and lived in the same building (attractive to me because it was close to classes, attractive to Bob because it was near the literary societies). His undergraduate studies were more classical than mine (he majored in history, and I in psychology), but he went on to Harvard Law School and I later to Harvard Business School. These years are often called formative, but I would argue that Bob has never stopped forming himself — and, I might add, those around him.

The strands of our helix intertwined again 26 years later when Bob assumed the post of chairman of The Boston Company. His aim was to turn this old-line trust company into a new-line money-management firm, and he often called on me for informal advice. The company I had founded, Batterymarch Financial Management, was dedicated to using technology and quantitative techniques to lower investment costs and boost investment returns. Bob used the example of Batterymarch to demonstrate to his colleagues the viability of these approaches. He adopted many of our techniques, and his efforts led to the successful sale of the bank to American Express in 1981.

Our next intersection was in the early 1980s, when Bob was heading up the US Department of Labor's pension division and I, in addition to my . . .

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