Business school: Uber’s culture and Masters in Finance ranking

Can you create a pitch for a ‘nice guy’ alternative to Uber?
Travis Kalanick, co-founder of Uber © AFP

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Welcome to the FT Business school newsletter, a weekly serving of management wisdom, reading recommendations and business-related challenges. FT subscribers can sign up here to receive the newsletter by email every Monday. If you have any feedback about FT Business school, please email bschool@ft.com.

Masters in Finance rankings 2017

Which schools will be number one in the FT Masters in Finance ranking for post and pre-experience programmes? Will HEC Paris and the University of Cambridge's Judge Business School be able to retain their number one position?

Andrew Hill’s challenge

The FT’s management editor sets a weekly test of your business, strategy and management skills.

Uber needs to do a U-turn. The transportation company has faced a host of scandals recently and last week announced its founder and chief executive Travis Kalanick would take indefinite leave. As I argue in my column this week, the problem is not just Uber’s: rotten cultures tend to spread to other companies that have mimicked one company or entrepreneur’s success. As one venture capitalist put it to me, if a competitor says: “‘We’re going to be nice guys and do the right thing’, it’s very hard to win”.

My challenge this week is to create a pitch for a “nice guy” alternative to Uber. Ideally, I’m after a slogan, but certainly no more than a sentence that indicates that your taxi company always takes the high road. Send your ideas to bschool@ft.com.

Last week, I asked you to write a firm, but diplomatic, note advising an allegedly indispensable chief executive to moderate his or her pay demands. Alison Clarke raised the wider consequences of personal greed in her memo to the boss: “Apart from the moral problem of justifying the difference between what you earn compared to the average worker... it’s actually bad for business because it lowers morale among the people who work for you, and in turn will affect their performance in the workplace.”

Another big management story last week was the announcement of a new chief executive at General Electric, which is famously meticulous about its succession planning. (Here’s our podcast about the change.) Not only will John Flannery, the new boss, face the challenge of managing a complex multinational, he is likely to have to manage it in a different way. For further reading, this Quartz article, published before the succession announcement, points out that GE is already developing self-managed teams, which require quite different skills of their leaders - including, perhaps, the chief executive himself.

Professor's picks

Every week a business school professor or academic recommends useful FT articles.

Janet Smart, reader in operations management at University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, selects:

Hanover fair to showcase advances in industrial internet of things The internet of things (IOT) is part of the continual drive for greater efficiency in factory and supply chain automation. This article contains some good examples of how IOT technology is already saving costs and increasing productivity. Automation is happening across value chains, with Paul Devlin of SAP Ariba relaying how AI bots are already engaged in predictive requisitioning — auto purchasing items before they get too low. The fascinating aspect is learning what new business models companies will adopt with the growth of IOT, and how staff react to the effects of automation.

Technology is driving change with motor insurers As consumers become more accustomed to the delivery of customised products in other areas of life, it is only a small step for insurance companies to offer drivers the benefits of customised insurance, where cover can be tailored to a particular road, time of day and surrounding traffic. The article is a great example of a technology’s potential to revolutionise an everyday activity. It is also a reminder, and a useful lesson, of how different stakeholders can affect new technology take-up – from liaising with automotive manufacturers to working with authorities planning transportation networks.

Jonathan Moules’ business school news

The UK’s split with the EU will begin for real this week almost a year to the day after the country’s referendum vote came out in favour of leaving the union.

The referendum has split the UK, creating new political battle lines. It is also creating new fault lines in academia, with some professors choosing to move to the UK even as many in the profession migrate in the opposite direction.

Most academics and students at business schools generally favour open borders and trade, which would imply strong support for the UK remaining part of the EU. However, there is a split in attitudes as to whether the first year after the Brexit vote has been bad for MBA providers, which I found when talking with senior staff and those currently enrolled on courses in the UK.

Brexit is an issue that excites a lot of passion among FT readers. If you would like to share your thoughts or experiences on this contentious issue, please add your comments to the debate at the bottom of this piece or email them to me at jonathan.moules@ft.com.

If you want to keep up to date with the latest news on the subject, follow the FT’s Brexit Briefing online.

Ask the academics

Got a question for leading business school experts? Send it to bschool@ft.com and we will publish the best replies in future newsletters.

Extra reading 
 What makes a CEO ‘exceptional’?

Test your knowledge

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Compiled by Patricia Nilsson — bschool@ft.com

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