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Rail privatisation has delivered improvements through accountability and autonomy

Both the leading candidates for the leadership of Britain’s opposition Labour party have now committed themselves to renationalising the country’s railways. But the state-owned British Rail was one if the most reviled institutions in the UK, and privatisation has delivered many relative benefits.

The wisest choices depend on instinct and careful analysis

We have a large consultancy business of transport modellers, environmental experts, risk managers and impact assessment modellers, the front line of an army that has turned evidence-based policy into policy-based evidence.

How a proud corporate history can lead to poor governance

The failures of the Coop provide insights into common management problems in not for profit institutions – including Oxford University.

Drug companies are built in labs, not boardrooms

The history of ICI and the British pharmaceutical industry may provide some pointers to show how shareholders and policymakers should react to Pfizer’s bid for Astra Zeneca.

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.

Britain’s ‘great leap forward’ was start of nuclear power failure

British technological failures have been compounded by a political phenomenon I have come to think of as “great leap forward syndrome”. The idea is that the best way to compensate for stumbles and missteps is to move, at one bound, ahead of the field.

Directors have a duty beyond just enriching shareholders

British law might have said that the duty of directors is simply to promote the interests of the company’s members. But it doesn’t – and that is no accident.

The brashness and bravado in big deals

Commercial decisions often reflect policy-based evidence, not evidence-based policy. Doing the deal is what matters; justification comes afterwards.

Take on Wall St titans if you want reform

Effective banking reform should aim at structures, not at intensified supervision. Resilient systems are simple ones.

Why do we need to pay billions of pounds for big projects?

The argument that we need the best and latest is powerful in political decision making, even among people who would never behave that way in their everyday lives.