James Stewart in 'A Wonderful Life': balancing kindness and corporate success is a fine art © Getty
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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 feedback about FT Business school, please email bschool@ft.com.

FT European Business Schools 2017 ranking and more

Find out which European schools have made it to this year's ranking. Will London Business School be number one again? Also, for the first time, we have launched a ranking of top schools in the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions.

How to Lead

Today, we have launched a new weekly series for readers who are interested in what makes good leadership. First in the series is Paul Polman, the Unilever CEO, who gives his account on how he fended off a hostile takeover bid from Kraft Heinz.

Andrew Hill's challenge

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

Small acts of kindness at work have a measurable effect on feelings of autonomy and happiness, according to research that I've examined in my column this week. One trigger for looking at the limits of kindness was the news this week that Mars has bought a minority stake in Kind Snacks, the purveyor of healthy nut bars, which sees itself as the spearhead of what it calls "the Kind movement" — encouraging acts of kindness (and presumably snack-eating) everywhere.

Mars is, of course, a privately held multinational, which promises to expand Kind's reach beyond the 14 countries where it currently operates — into China, for example — while allowing it to retain its independence. The values of small companies and the profit motives of large ones have a habit of clashing, so for my challenge this week, I'd like you to draw up in no more than three points for a charter for Mars to ensure that it does not trample on Kind's principles. Send your ideas to bschool@ft.com, as usual.

Last week, I asked for your worst examples of leadership sorcery and self-deluded magical thinking. Adrian Haberberg took off on a Wagnerian flight of fancy, saying that the really poisonous practice is “the quest for the enchanted ring” — the practice that holds the key to unbounded success and belongs to the company of the moment. "The superstition here is that a copy of the ring will confer the same magical powers as the original, regardless of differences in industry or organisational context," he writes, with the quest usually ending in calamity.

In further reading this week, let me add to your cognitive overload with an article by Stanford's Bob Sutton about cognitive overload, featured in Ladders, the jobs website. He and colleague Huggy Rao are looking at ways to reduce this overload, which, he writes, is partly due to an organisational version of the tragedy of the commons: "Many organisations are filled with well-meaning people who keep adding little bits of complexity and friction," he writes.

Professor's picks

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

Keith Hennessey teaches economic policy as a lecturer at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. He previously served as director of the National Economic Council for President George W. Bush. Mr Hennessy selects:

Big Tech and Amazon: too powerful to break up? The Amazon juggernaut is bringing intense competition to a range of sectors. Retail pharmacy may be next.

Facebook, Google and Twitter have created new types of services and are driving change in areas like entertainment and news.

The combination of their size, success, and disruptive impact makes them attractive targets for demagogic politicians. There is a risk that antitrust policy becomes a political weapon to target specific companies for non-policy reasons, rather than a tool for its more appropriate goal — eliminating anti-competitive behaviour by dominant businesses. Business leaders need to understand the threats posed by any antitrust policy changes.

Sand castles on Jersey Shore: property boom defies US flood risk The National Flood Insurance Program subsidises beachfront homeowners, charging lower premiums than one would find in a private market.

The federal government has a range of insurance programmes, but they can act as a conduit for opaque subsidies.

Even if the programme’s intent is to charge an actuarially fair premium, over time, affected parties — driven by geographic and interest group politics — can lobby to reduce the premiums they pay. Elected officials representing low-lying communities seek to transfer premium costs to voters in other regions, allied with a construction industry seeking to shift costs to taxpayers. These subsidies distort business decisions, for example, they can affect managers’ choices on company location.

Jonathan Moules' business school news

Entrepreneurship is the rock and roll of the early 21st century. Cool teenagers back in the fifties, sixties and seventies would spend their spare time in their bedroom learning chords on a guitar. Now they want to learn how to code and develop the next Google or Instagram. By the time they reach their late twenties, at an age when they could study for an MBA, they have reached a stage where they can create something of scale.

Research published this week by the venture capital firm Atomico shows that one in five MBA graduates from Europe’s top business schools last year said they wanted to work in the tech sector. There are plenty of examples of MBA graduates doing just this, such as Jeff Lynn and Carlos Silva, the founders of equity crowdfunding service Seedrs, who created the business model as part of their MBA course at Oxford’s Said Business School, and Frédéric Mazzella, an Insead graduate, who founded French car pooling service BlaBlaCar.

What often does not get discussed are those MBA graduates interested in taking a seat on the other side of the table as investors in ambitious start-ups. However, this is an equally cool aspiration among MBA students as I discovered talking to alumni for my piece on the rise of VC and private equity recruitment on business school campuses.

The mantra of entrepreneurship, just as it was with rock and roll, tends to be to drop out of college to get on the road to success. But if the data from business schools are to be believed, there are plenty of reasons to stick at your studies if you want to be part of the hip world of start-ups.

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.

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Edited by Wai Kwen Chan — bschool@ft.com

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