Economy · June 19, 2022

Precautionary Tales – The French Knight’s Guide to Corporate Culture

France 1346: King Philip VI’s army is the quintessential killing machine in Europe. He is used to crushing any force stupid enough to oppose it, and now expects to annihilate a motley band of British invaders in a field near the village of Crecy.

Except at nightfall, it is Philip’s army lying broken and bleeding in the mud. What went wrong? The French knights apparently hadn’t updated their corporate culture.

Warningary Tales was written by me, Tim Harford, with Andrew Wright. It is produced by Ryan Dilley, with support from Courtney Guarino and Emily Vaughn.

The original sound design and music are the work of Pascal Wyse. Julia Barton edited the scripts.

Thanks to the Pushkin Industries team, including Mia Lobel, Jacob Weisberg, Heather Fain, Jon Schnaars, Carly Miglior, Eric Sandler, Emily Rostek, Royston Beserve, Maggie Taylor, Nicole Morano, Daniella Lakhan and Maya Koenig.

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Further reading and listening

Thomas Schelling Micromotives and Macrobehavior

Warren Ellis Crecy

Lynn White Jr. Medieval technology and social change

Andrew Ayton and Philip Preston The Battle of Crecy

Military Mistakes of Saul David

The Battle of Crecy by Julian Humphry Extra story

Boris Groysberg, Jeremiah Lee, Jesse Price and J. Yo-Jud Cheng “Leaders’ Guide to Corporate Culture” Harvard Business Review

Speech by Marty Baron at the Reuters Institute