Spotting C.E.O. Hubris

Big businesses are (once again) learning the lesson that bigger doesn't always mean better. When aggressive mergers put a company in financial trouble, arrogance may be the motive.

What's the Latest Development?

Current Bank of America C.E.O. Brian Moynihan has been tasked with scaling back the hasty acquisitions made by former C.E.O. Ken Lewis who pushed for aggressive vertical growth. The bank is one of several major institutions relearning the lesson that bigger doesn't necessarily mean better. Corporate breakups have likewise occurred at Sara Lee, Fortune Brands and Kraft; in general, the market has responded positively to news of corporate divisions. Making companies global through large acquisitions often overly complicates their finances. 

What's the Big Idea?

Why do some companies thirst for massive acquisitions even when they may be hazardous to their long-term health? Look to the C.E.O.s who staple together these random enterprises. "'Serial acquirer' C.E.O.s see their jobs primarily as expanding corporate holdings, rather than managing their companies to produce better products and services. They often see regulators as adversaries and accounting rules as inconvenient barriers to fulfilling their plans." In a survey, C.E.O.s who saw themselves as born leaders were more likely to make large mergers and acquisitions. 

Car culture and suburban sprawl create rifts in society, claims study

New research links urban planning and political polarization.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
  • Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
  • People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Flickr / 13winds
Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less