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Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions

Sydney Finkelstein, Professor of Executive Education and Director of the Executive Program at Tuck School of Business, is an expert on why executive decision-making sometimes takes "an ugly turn".

Sydney Finkelstein has conducted extensive research on strategic leadership and corporate governance, publishing over 60 articles in the major journals in his field and 11 books, including the international best-seller "Why Smart Executives Fail", based on the results of a six-year study of 51 companies and 200 interviews of business leaders.

"Why Smart Executives Fail" identifies the fundamental reasons why major mistakes happen, points out the early warning signals that are critical for investors and managers alike, and offers ideas on how organizations can develop a capability of learning from corporate mistakes.

The Wall Street Journal called it "a marvel, a jargon-free business book based on serious research that offers genuine insights with clarity and sometimes even wit; it should be required reading not just for executives but for investors as well." His work has been featured in numerous leading media outlets.

Prof. Finkelstein has collaborated with executives at Northwestern University, Wharton School of Business, Duke University, Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi (Italy), London Business School, Australian Graduate School of Management, Melbourne Business School, Hanoi School of Business (Vietnam) and Helsinki School of Economics (Finland).

Sydney Finkelstein holds degrees from Concordia University (Canada), London School of Economics, and a Ph.D in Strategic Management from Columbia University. He has participated on numerous CEO forums and served as consultant and speaker for major companies around the world.

  • Leadership

  • Corporate Governance

  • Why Smart Executives Fail

Why Smart Executives Fail

There's a scenario that keeps repeating itself in today's business climate: a company is voted one of the most admired in the world, and three or four years later it's in dire financial trouble; a CEO is celebrated on the covers of BusinessWeek, Forbes and Fortune, and soon after the company is in the midst of a disastrous merger or some other fiasco.

Sydney Finkelstein has carried out the largest research program ever devoted to corporate mistakes and failures, uncovering the causes regularly responsible for major business breakdowns. He relates the stories of great business disasters and demonstrates that there are specific, identifiable ways in which many businesses regularly make themselves vulnerable to failure.

Think Again

Why do smart and experienced leaders make flawed and even catastrophic decisions? Why do people keep believing they have made the right choice, even when disastrous result stare them in the face? Sydney Finkelstein turns his attention to such major strategic decisions as the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and numerous business cases to explain why decision-makers sometimes think they're right when they are really wrong.