Pride comes before a fall

Asked to rate their own performance, today's companies are more confident than those of a decade ago. But only a quarter of 1997's super-confident fighters have survived, says andrew saunders. The meek shall inherit the earth, yea, even in the boardroom ...

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall, as the famous Old Testament quotation (Proverbs, chapter 16, verse 18) has it - in full - on the subject of what is usually regarded by students of human weakness as the seventh and deadliest sin.

The biblical prose may be a bit purple by contemporary standards, but the sentiment remains as true in the modern, ego-fuelled world of big business as it was in those far-off days of fire and brimstone. Who remembers HTV? Cordiant? Sema Group? Lasmo?

According to new research from our BMAC survey's professor Mike Brown, an overdose of hubris may have played a part in the downfall not only of these companies but of others like them: riding high a decade or so ago but long since acquired by stronger, fitter and less arrogant rivals.

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