Stephen Cranston Writer & columnist

Culture is one of those topics that is hard to pin down. Many of us were brought up to treat it as synonymous with great art and music. But in the corporate context it means a mixture of attitudes, whether it’s teamwork, hierarchy or other key considerations. Corporate cultures also interact with national cultures. In the Netherlands it is quite common for the boss to take a tram to work; in the US he might prefer to arrive by helicopter, as did Brian Gilbertson, a well-known Joburg mining boss in the 1980s. Whenever he arrived someone would mutter “the ego has landed”. I was prompted to look at culture by a recent paper from Research Affiliates. This makes a change from their usual missives on factor-based investing, more popularly known as smart beta. Research Affiliates, based in Newport Beach, California, is synonymous with its CEO, Rob Arnott. He is the face of the fundamental index or Rafi, by far the best-known smart beta index. It measures companies on their economic footpri...

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