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The Co-op’s mistake was to detach responsibility from power

The test of an organisational structure is not how it handles success but how it copes when things go wrong.

The startling human progress that economists fail to see

The most important source of economic advance comes not from doing the same things better, but from achieving the same objective in a completely different way.

How big data lets us see a little further into the unknown

Big data can help us understand the past and the present but it can help us understand the future only to the extent that the future is, in some relevant way, contained in the present.

The world’s rich stay rich while the poor struggle to prosper

The dispersion of productivity among already rich countries has increased. Norway and Switzerland have surged ahead but laggards such as Italy – and indeed Britain – have struggled to keep up with the pack.

They may not find a Jobs – but Pisa tests lean in the right direction

To say comparisons of academic performance are always imperfect and open to revision is not to say they cannot be made at all.

The Olympic optimism bias has left the taxpayer out of pocket

The Olympiad was a good party, which cost the British population about £200 per head.

The design flaws that lead to financial explosions

Nuclear power and financial systems both have the capacity to blow up the world. Perhaps there are lessons from one for the other.

Being ethical in business is not as simple as ‘doing the right thing’

Ethics are about what to do when good behaviour and profitable business are not necessarily the same thing.

The Nobel committee is muddled on the nature of economics

Financial economics, for half a century a showpiece in economic departments, is today struggling to maintain credibility in the face of the financial instability of the past two decades.

Sometimes the best that a company can hope for is death

Humans have always found it hard to cope with the idea that every individual has a lifespan even as life itself goes on. The idea of a natural life cycle for a business, or industrial centre, is even more difficult to accept.