We publish a range of research papers to help our clients navigate change, improve diversity and grow their businesses through people.


Taming Narcissus: Managing Behavioural Risk in Top Business Leaders

In this research, we explain why and how the behaviour of over-powerful Chairs or chief executives can become a danger, and explore how boards can pre-empt or address such behaviours in order to minimise the risks for the companies they oversee.

Many business leaders have strong and distinctive personalities; their effectiveness may be based on unusual levels of self-confidence, drive and resilience. But having reached the top of the ladder - and achieved success for which they are widely lauded - these very attributes can turn into destructive tendencies.


Renaissance Directors: Reinvigorating Public Companies

For decades, the public company was viewed as the optimal corporate ownership structure. However, in recent years, the effectiveness of the model is often questioned by investors, external stakeholders and indeed board directors. Capital and talent are flowing increasingly to alternative ownership structures.

In this research, we examine the challenges faced by public company boards, explore the lessons they can learn from the best private equity and family-based businesses and lay out five ways to help reinvigorate the public company model.


The Behavioural Drivers of Board Effectiveness: a Practitioners’ Perspective

Over the last twenty years, we have witnessed a steady expansion of corporate governance codes and prescriptions - and yet too many boards continue to fail to prevent corporate crises or to support successful value creation.

Our experience, and this research, emphasises that the greatest determinant of a board’s success or failure lies in the collective and individual behaviour of its members. It identifies seven actionable insights for boards to consider including the skills required to be a great Chairman, how to build the board into a high performing team and the importance of character as well as competence in independent directors.


Cracking the Code: Getting More Women into Senior Executive Roles

In recent years, the pressure to increase the representation of women on boards has grown with some seal - progress made. However, addressing the ultimately more important challenge of enhancing the proportion of women in senior executive ranks has proven much more difficult.

This research identifying that the problem is a ‘slippery ladder’, not a ‘glass ceiling’, reflecting a complex mix of both supply and demand issues. It lays out a series of recommendations on how to ‘crack the code’ centered around: establishing an unambiguous commitment to change, championed from the top; create a supportive ecosystem for women; and making progress sustainably changing the underlying organisational culture.


Private Equity vs PLC Boards: a Comparison of Practices and Effectiveness

We explored three key questions: Are the boards of PE portfolio companies more or less effective than their plc counterparts? What do PE portfolio company boards do differently from plc boards? Are the different board behaviours driven purely by the different ownership models or are there important lessons each can teach the other?

The research identifies some real opportunities for plc boards to consider to help enhance their effectiveness.

With the growing importance of Private Equity (PE) owned businesses, we conducted detailed quantitative and qualitative research with LBS and McKinsey to explore the differences between how PE and plc boards operate.


Board and Executive Search: A Market Update, Autumn 2019

The latest thinking from our network. Despite political and economic uncertainty, we continue to see the UK as a robust, flexible and adaptable business environment.

In this edition we reflect on the diverging choice for businesses between internal and external appointments, particularly in CEO and CFO recruitment. We also consider recent corporate governance recommendations regarding Chair tenure and its impact on gender diversity.


The Standard Voluntary Code of Conduct for Executive Search Firms

The Voluntary Code of Conduct for executive search firms (The Code) lays out steps for search firms to follow across the search process, from accepting a brief through to induction, in order to promote diversity on boards.

The 2011 Davies Review proposed that the executive search community should draw such a code to address gender diversity on corporate boards and best practice for the related search process. Since its launch, it has been refined and enhanced, reflecting learnings from search firms themselves, the independent review of its effectiveness in 2014, and the Hampton-Alexander and Parker reports in 2017.

The revised Code has now been signed up to by over 50 search firms - including MWM - who collectively account for the vast majority of the board work in the UK. We will continue periodically to review the effectiveness of the Code and progress towards improving board diversity, with the Hampton-Alexander and Parker Steering Groups and other important stakeholders, and recommend changes as appropriate.