Why Some Firms Thrive While Others Fail: Governance and Management Lessons from the Crisis

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Overview

The financial crisis revealed fundamental shortcomings in both public and private American institutions. While the firms that were successful each found their own way to weather the crisis, unsuccessful firms were remarkably alike in their inability to cope and in the mistakes they made.

Combing through the wreckage, Thomas H. Stanton examines which financial firms survived the crisis and which ones failed. He analyzes how differences in governance, organization, and management ...

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Why Some Firms Thrive While Others Fail: Governance and Management Lessons from the Crisis

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Overview

The financial crisis revealed fundamental shortcomings in both public and private American institutions. While the firms that were successful each found their own way to weather the crisis, unsuccessful firms were remarkably alike in their inability to cope and in the mistakes they made.

Combing through the wreckage, Thomas H. Stanton examines which financial firms survived the crisis and which ones failed. He analyzes how differences in governance, organization, and management between these firms led to their success or failure, and how government supervision and regulation failed to prevent the crisis. Based on interviews that the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission conducted with CEOs, risk officers, traders, and others at major financial firms, Stanton systematically outlines how successful firms, like JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and others used a multitude of approaches to distinguish themselves in operational competence and intelligent discipline, while unsuccessful firms, like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Countrywide, and others uniformly failed to prepare for possible low-probability, high-impact events. Stanton concludes by issuing a call for strengthening organizational design, governance, and risk management, by identifying clear attributes that distinguish successful firms from the others.

Why Some Firms Thrive While Others Fail is an invaluable resource for company officials and policymakers on the development of a risk-sensitive, more-successful culture. It also provides an essential foundation on culture and governance for students of business and public policy, practitioners within the public and private financial institutions at the center of the recent financial crisis, and those at risk of playing roles in possible future crises.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Tom Stanton has given us a cogent and powerful analysis of the key forces that catapulted America to financial disaster. Through this book and his impressive work for the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, he has provided us a roadmap to help avert future catastrophe. It is a major contribution to our understanding of the financial and economic crisis that continues to grip our nation."—Phil Angelides, Chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, former State Treasurer of California

"Tom Stanton's book should be high-priority reading for senior managers and policymakers. Careful consideration of the well-reasoned arguments in this book will necessarily be part of any serious effort to reform our financial regulatory system, strengthen firm governance and risk management, and promote greater overall financial stability—all critical prerequisites to assuring a strong and resilient economy, and rising standards of living, over time."—Rich Spillenkothen, former director of Banking Supervision and Regulation, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

"Governance failures were central to the financial crisis, and they continue to be a primary focus of post-crisis financial regulation. Why Some Firms Thrive While Others Fail is a serious appraisal of the lessons behind those failures, and a guidebook for managers who hope to make effective risk management a cornerstone of their companies."—Eugene A. Ludwig, former Comptroller of the Currency, Founder and CEO of Promontory Financial Group

"Tom Stanton makes a powerful case for constructive dialogue inside companies and between companies and regulators to reduce unnecessary business risk. Such dialogue between those responsible for performance and those responsible for integrity materially improves the chances the problems are defined properly, key factors are properly weighted and ultimate decisions are sound."—Ben W. Heineman, Jr., Senior Fellow at Harvard School of Law and School of Government, former Senior Vice President-General Counsel, General Electric

"Tom Stanton told us in 1991 that the fatal design of government-sponsored enterprises would escalate risk in housing finance. He was proved right-too late. Now he explains the management and organizational characteristics which provide for survival, while the less prepared are collapsing, in the inevitable hard times of financial cycles. We need to concentrate on remembering these lessons when the next boom gets rolling."—Alex J. Pollock, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, former President and CEO, Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago

"Drawing from many interviews conducted by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, Stanton's book considers how various important firms dealt successfully with such uncertainty (or failed to do so with disastrous results) and the severe organizational stresses and dynamics involved as financial events that were considered impossible by many or most people nevertheless became reality. The personal accounts of discussions, arguments, and decisions about riskiness, often enough career-ending ones, instructively display the uncertainty always involved. What is truly needed, and what Stanton's book so interestingly explores, is how organizations can facilitate the Minskian dialectic of enterprise and prudence, and how they can improve their chances of making sound judgments in the face of ineluctable uncertainty."—The American

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199915996
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 7/5/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 1,315,423
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas H. Stanton is a fellow of the Center for the Study of American Government at the Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of A State of Risk: Will Government Sponsored Enterprises be the Next Financial Crisis? and Making Government Manageable: Executive Organization and Management in the Twenty-First Century.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Chapter 1. Repairing our Public and Private Institutions: A National Imperative
Chapter 2. Dynamics of the Financial Crisis
Chapter 3. Coping With the Crisis
Chapter 4. Company Governance and the Financial Crisis
Chapter 5. Risk Management and the Financial Crisis
Chapter 6. Company Organization, Business Models, and the Crisis
Chapter 7. Supervision and Regulation of Financial Firms
Chapter 8. Hyman Minsky: Will it Happen again?
Chapter 9. Governance and Management: Lessons Learned
Chapter 10. Governance and Management: Beyond the Financial Crisis
References
Index

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  • Posted April 9, 2013

    Why Some Firms Thrive While Others Fail by Thomas Stanton examin

    Why Some Firms Thrive While Others Fail by Thomas Stanton examines the fundamental shortcomings of both public and private financial sector companies as revealed during America’s ‘Great Recession.’ Thomas focuses on the areas of management, organization, and governance; contrasting the shortcomings of companies that failed with the sound practices of comparable organizations fairing well during the economic downturn.

    Thomas concludes his book by relating the financial sector’s lessons learned to businesses within other industries that have faced similarly significant challenges. The result is the revelation of sound risk management practices that can help ensure companies in any industry are prepared to recognize and effectively deal with crisis situations.

    I like Why Some Firms Thrive While Others Fail for its insightful examination of why some companies respond well to crisis while others simply fail. Thomas provides insight not only to the direct management, organization, and governance issues hindering crisis recognition and response but the far more elusive combinations of attributes from these three areas that stymie if not paralyze an organization. By applying the best practices presented, organization leaders can better position their organization to recognize the onset of significant challenges – key to effectively dealing with any crisis – and react in a timely manner so to prevent a catastrophic outcome. I particularly appreciated Thomas’s extension of his book’s principles to other industries including:

    - Petroleum industry
    - Mining industry
    - Natural gas distribution industry
    - Hospital / Medical industry
    - Government

    This extension makes the book relevant to leaders of any organizational type.

    I have written extensively on the topic of crisis management. I found Thomas’s principles to be highly consistent with and expounding to the crisis management best practices I endorse; making Why Some Firms Thrive While Others Fail a StrategyDriven recommended read.

    All the Best,
    Nathan Ives
    StrategyDriven Principal

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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