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Corporate viruses and bad management practices

Capitalism is an optimistic theory. Progress happens automatically because of competition.

By Freek Vermeulen 11 October 2016

Capitalism is an optimistic theory. Progress happens automatically because of competition. For good organisations, progress in the world of business is assured.





Freek Vermuelen, Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at London Business School, doesn’t believe it. Everywhere he looks there are firms with bad practices that don’t disappear automatically.


When he studied cultural anthropology, he realised that the field bore similarities to that of business. Cultural anthropologists had long assumed that the most successful and longest standing societies were the ones with the ‘best’ practices. In fact, the truth is more complicated, and there are a lot of anomalies that don’t fit the rule. Cultures with harmful rituals and practices don’t always die out.


To dig deeper, he researched UK fertility clinics. When they first became widespread in Britain, the government decreed that each one must publish their success rates. A noble endeavour perhaps, but a misguided one.


Watch Dr Vermuelen in this TEDxLBS talk to find out how corporate viruses proliferate at all levels and in every kind of business, and how destroying them makes room for innovation and creativity.


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These films were created as part of TEDx London Business School. Ideas worth spreading, from the LBS community.

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