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Other Voices: Analyst Ratings and the Institutional Imperative

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

John Huber from Saber Capital Management writes on Harvest Exchange:

Buffett talks a lot about the concept he calls the "institutional imperative". In his 1989 shareholder letter , when he was describing his mistakes of the first 25 years managing Berkshire, he outlines what he means by this (emphasis mine):

"My most surprising discovery: the overwhelming importance in business of an unseen force that we might call "the institutional imperative." In business school, I was given no hint of the imperative's existence and I did not intuitively understand it when I entered the business world. I thought then that decent, intelligent, and experienced managers would automatically make rational business decisions. But I learned over time that isn't so. Instead, rationality frequently wilts when the institutional imperative comes into play.

"For example: (1) As if governed by Newton's First Law of Motion, an institution will resist any change in its current direction; (2) Just as work expands to fill available time, corporate projects or acquisitions will materialize to soak up available funds; (3) Any business craving of the leader, however foolish, will be quickly supported by detailed rate-of-return and strategic studies prepared by his troops; and (4) The behavior of peer companies, whether they are......................

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