Oxford Experiences


John Kay became a Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford in 1970 and taught in the university for ten years. After periods as Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, as Chairman of London Economics, the consultancy business he founded, and as Professor of Economics at the London Business School, he returned to Oxford in 1996 to become the first Director of the Said Business School. In 1999, frustrated with the processes of the university, he resigned. Now, he is writing a book on the functioning of market economies and is a visiting professor at the London School of Economics and (again) a Fellow of St John’s. A longer account of his Oxford experiences is in the current issue of Prospect.

Good morning, and welcome to my first lecture on the “Management of decline”. I know that most of you are here only because Professor Whizzbang’s course on e-commerce is oversubscribed. But I think you will find it interesting, especially since most of my case-studies will be drawn directly from the experience of colleagues here at Isis University.

By now you should all have copies of the set text: Don’t Rock the Boat: Diaries of a Dead Don. Dr Clarendon begins his exposition with a memorable account of the boat race of 1978, when the oarsmen maintained perfect rhythm and harmony as the water level rose, abandoning it only when the boat finally sank. That image should be an inspiration to us all. If you have problems, then internal dissension or precipitate action will only make matters worse.

The subject of today’s lecture is “How to avoid making decisions”. Dr Clarendon was proud that he made only two decisions in his life. At the age of eighteen he chose a scholarship at St Jude’s rather than an exhibition at St Henry’s an

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