MIB: Duff McDonald on the Failings of Elite Institutions

This week, we speak with Duff McDonald, journalist and author of several critically acclaimed books, including The Golden Passport about issues with Harvard Business School, and The Firm about the influential (and havoc wreaking) McKinsey & Co.

McDonald has done a deep dive research project into several key institutions in the worlds of government, business and finance. In this current era of populist disdain for elites, his timing could not have been any better. Several institutions that have historically fed senior people into these worlds come under his withering gaze.

McDonald writes about Harvard Business School: It has not only “proven an enormous failure,” but its very success has made it positively “dangerous.” He is similarly critical about McKinsey & Co. I was surprised to learn that there had never been a book written about the influential consulting firm before.

Not everything McDonald writes is negative; a cover story for New York Magazine about JP Morgan’s purchase of Bear Stearns (“How Jamie Dimon resisted the quick and dirty temptations of Wall Street and put himself in perfect position for the deal, or maybe steal, of the century”) led to his first book was Last Man Standing: The Ascent of Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan Chase. It is generally a laudatory look at the rise of the Chief Executive Officer of JPMorgan Chase.

All of the books McDonalds references can be found here.

You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras, on iTunesSoundcloudOvercast, and Bloomberg. Our earlier podcasts can all be found on iTunesSoundcloudOvercast and Bloomberg..

Next week, we speak with Ed Thorp, the math professor who Beat the DealerBeat the Market, and became the first true quant hedge fund manager. His new autobiography is A Man for All Markets.




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