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Centennial Speaker Series: Lawrence Cunningham in Conversation with Astrid Doerner on Margin of Trust: The Berkshire Business Model

Thursday, October 8, 2020, 121 p.m.

Lawrence Cunningham headshot

Warren Buffett and his company Berkshire Hathaway Inc. are legendary for their distinctive investing approach. Yet, many equally unconventional but less-well-known aspects of the company’s managerial practices and organizational structure are rich with lessons for those seeking to follow in Buffett’s footsteps. Margin of Trust distills Buffett’s approach to management and corporate life and provides a definitive analysis of the tenets of the Berkshire Hathaway system, its costs and benefits, and how they can be adapted for other organizations.

In Margin of Trust, authors Lawrence A. Cunningham and Stephanie Cuba develop a new account of how Berkshire Hathaway works, showing that the key to its success is trust. Profiling partnership practices and business methods, they contend that the company’s distinguishing feature is a culture in which autonomy and decentralization are core management principles. Cunningham and Cuba provide instructive examples of how this model has been successfully adapted by other companies that share faith in trust as an organizing principle. The authors also offer candid commentary on the risks of a trust-based approach and how to mitigate them. Margin of Trust features illuminating analysis of Buffett’s take on the role trust plays in business agreements, what he looks for in great corporate boards, and what lies ahead for the company after its iconic leader leaves the scene.

12 p.m.: Welcome Remarks: Donna Rapaccioli, dean of the Gabelli School of Business

12:05 p.m.: Speaker Introduction: David Cowen, president/CEO of the Museum of American Finance

12:08 p.m.: Discussion: Astrid Doerner and Lawrence Cunningham

12:45 p.m.: Audience Q&A

1:00 p.m.: Closing Remarks: David Cowen

About the Speakers
Cunningham is an author, lecturer, professor, public company director, and consultant on corporate governance. He is the Henry St. George Tucker III Research Professor at George Washington University and founding director of George Washington University in New York. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Warren Buffett Shareholder: Stories from Inside the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting; The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America, in collaboration with Buffett; The AIG Story, with Hank Greenberg; and Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values.

Doerner is a U.S. correspondent in New York for Handelsblatt, Germany’s leading business daily. She has covered Berkshire Hathaway for many years, including interviews with Buffett, Charlie Munger, and Ted Weschler, and she is a regular attendee of the company’s shareholder meetings in Omaha, Nebraska. Doerner also covers banks, financial markets, and the economy.

This event is co-sponsored with the Museum of American Finance and CFA Society New York.