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BBC Business Daily


The view from the top of business, presenting a clearer view of the business world, through discussion with people running companies.

The view from the top of business, presenting a clearer view of the business world, through discussion with people running companies.
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The view from the top of business, presenting a clearer view of the business world, through discussion with people running companies.




Is the West really meritocratic?

We hear the arguments of leading US academic and author, Daniel Markovits, whose book The Meritocracy Trap argues that meritocracy in the United States and other Western free-market economies is a myth that fuels inequality. Temba Maqubela, the head of The Groton School - one of America's top private schools - outlines the role that elite establishments such as his could play in helping less advantaged students. Meanwhile Samina Khan, director of undergraduate admissions at Oxford...


How to be angry

From hotheads to curmudgeons, is anger always bad for business? Can anger management techniques help? Or should we put our wrath to profitable use? Laurence Knight speaks to an entrepreneur who hit the headlines following an air rage incident about his chronic fits of rage. Anger management expert Dr Gina Simmons explains why he may want to consider doing press-ups. We also hear from Mustafa Nayyem, who helped initiate the bitter Euromaidan protests that brought down Ukraine's last...


The vaping scare and big tobacco

Why health concerns over vaping is bad for cigarette companies. In the US hundreds of illnesses and even some deaths have been linked to vaping. That's bad news for a tobacco industry looking for a long-term replacement for cigarettes. Manuela Saragosa speaks to Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, Anna Gilmore, professor of public health at the University of Bath in the UK and a spokesperson for STOP - a global industry watchdog aimed at stopping tobacco...


Losing your mind at work

On World Mental Health Day, we hear the experiences of people who've suffered a mental health breakdown at work, and ask what employers can do to support them. We hear from Ian Stuart, the UK CEO of the global bank HSBC, Paul Farmer from the mental health charity Mind, American comedian and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax, Dean Yates, the head of journalist mental health and wellbeing strategy at the news agency Reuters, Geoff McDonald, global advocate and campaigner of Minds at Work, and...


Why whistleblowers need protection

A new EU directive grants new legal rights to those reporting corporate and government misbehaviour. Ed Butler asks David Lewis, professor of employment law at Middlesex University, how significant the new legal framework is and why it was needed. Plus we replay an interview from 2016 in which lawyer Mychal Wilson retells his early experiences as a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company in Los Angeles, and why he blew the whistle on underhand practices. And practicing Louisiana doctor...


Choose your own pay

What happens when a company lets its employees decide what their salaries should be? Will anyone ask to be paid less? A number of tech companies are finding out, as they see it as a way of achieving greater fairness and transparency, as well as motivating staff to raise their effort to match their remuneration. Ed Butler speaks to Heather McGregor, executive dean of the Edinburgh Business School, and to David Burkus, the California-based author of a book about pay transparency, Under New...


The George Soros conspiracy

Why one financier is the target of a global conspiracy theory. Manuela Saragosa speaks to the BBC's Mike Rudin, who made a recent documentary on the Soros conspiracy, and to Joe Uscinski, associate professor of political science at the University of Miami - and an expert in conspiracy theories. And the BBC's Dhruti Shah speaks to David Mikkelson, the founder of Snopes, the company trying to debunk fake news for the last 25 years. (Photo: Anti-Soros placards during a political demonstration...


End of the road for US truckers?

Truck drivers and the robots that could replace them. Jahd Khalil visits a truck stop in the US state of Virginia to find out why there's a chronic shortage of truckers in the US. Robert Brown from the robotics company TuSimple and Greg Hastings, associate partner at McKinsey & Co, tell Manuela Saragosa why long-distance driving is exactly the kind of job suited to robots. (Photo: A truck stop on the US-Mexico border, Credit: Getty Images)


The right to repair

Why is it so hard to fix your own things? Ed Butler speaks to those campaigning for manufacturers to make it easier for us to fix our electronics goods - everything from tractors to smartphones. Clare Seek runs a Repair Café in Portsmouth, England, a specially designated venue for anyone who wants to get their stuff to last longer. And Ed travels to Agbogbloshie in Accra in Ghana, one of the places where our mountains of e-waste end up being pulled apart and melted down for scrap. The...


The search for sustainable fabric

Modern textiles are environmentally problematic. Cotton needs gallons of water to produce, while polyester comes from crude oil. So could organic materials such as mushrooms and banana leaves hold the answer? Manuela Saragosa speaks to Dr Richard Blackburn, chemistry professor at Leeds University, who has been studying the ecological impact of the garments industry for decades. Meanwhile the BBC's Elizabeth Hotson investigates innovative new fabrics preparing to hit the market, including...


The onward march of Chinese debt

Is the rapid build up of consumer and corporate credit a threat to China's economic wellbeing? On the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic, Ed Butler asks whether the increasing dependence on debt of this officially communist nation is becoming a problem. The programme includes interviews with Shanghai-based journalist Liyan Ma, Shaun Rein of business strategy consultants China Market Research Group, and economist Linda Yueh. (Picture: People's Liberation Army personnel...


Brexit and the currency speculators

Some traders are betting on the UK crashing out of the EU without a divorce agreement. Should we be concerned that they wield too much political influence? Both the British Prime Minister's sister Rachel Johnson, and the former Conservative finance minister Philip Hammond, have publicly voiced concerns in recent day that Boris Johnson is backed by financiers speculating on a sharp fall in the pound following a possible no-deal Brexit on 31 October. Manuela Saragosa asks how credible are such...


WeWork and the cult of the CEO

How WeWork's Adam Neumann lost his job after a disastrous attempt to list the company on the stock market. Manuela Saragosa speaks to the Wall Street Journal's Eliot Brown about the charisma of Adam Neumann and how it helped raise billions from investors, and to Andre Spicer from the Cass Business School about the cult of the founder-CEO. Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at the New York University Stern School of Business, explains why WeWork's IPO failure should be a lesson to the...


Climate Action: Should we plant more trees?

Ed Butler speaks to Professor Tom Crowther from the Swiss university ETH Zurich, who says planting billions of trees around the world is by far the biggest and cheapest way to tackle climate change. Marcelo Guimaraes, chairman of Mahogany Roraima, a commercial timber and reforestation plantation in the northern Amazon rainforest, discusses how that would work in practice. (Photo: A tree in a deforested area of the Amazon rainforest, Credit: Getty Images)


Climate Action: The moral imperative

What is our ethical duty to eliminate carbon emissions? Was Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg right to express such anger at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York this week? Justin Rowlatt asks leading moral philosopher Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University, whether someone driving a petrol- fuelled car can really be held responsible for increasing the risk of drought in Africa. And why should we give up taking long-haul flights, if the tiny amount of carbon...


Climate Action: Uninhabitable Earth

Just how bad will it get if the world fails to get to grips with climate change? On day two of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, Justin Rowlatt speaks to David Wallace-Wells, author of the apocalyptic book Uninhabitable Earth, which lays out the dire predictions of climatologists for the coming decades if humanity continues to put ever more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere unabated. Yet despite the potentially terrifying outlook, it remains very difficult to motivate politicians...


Climate Action: Greta Thunberg's mission

The Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg explains how she aims to get the world's governments gathered for the UN Climate Action Summit in New York to take meaningful action on global warming. Justin Rowlatt speaks to her about her ambitions for her transatlantic trip, and whether one person can really make that much of a difference. In order for her mission to succeed, it will mean rebuilding the global economy from the ground up, including the phasing out of most of the oil and gas...


The future of Facebook

What next for the social media giant? Jane Wakefield speaks to one former mentor of Mark Zuckerberg, and a British member of parliament about what changes Facebook needs to make after data scandals and concerns over its power. (Photo: Facebook logo, Credit: Getty Images)


Robot race cars and AI

What robots driving cars can tell us about artificial intelligence. Ed Butler speaks to Bryn Balcombe, chief strategy officer of the autonomous vehicle project Roborace. Gary Marcus, professor of psychology at New York University, explains why he thinks AI development is fundamentally limited. Yoshua Bengio, professor of computer science at the University of Montreal in Canada, gives a defence. (Photo: A Roborace robot-driven car in action on the track, Credit: Getty Images)


Trading tinned fish and powdered milk

How economies spring up in extreme places from refugee camps to prisons. Ed Butler speaks to economist Richard Davies, author of a new book called Extreme Economies, who describes the economic activity in extreme places, from a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan to one of the toughest prisons in the world, in the United States. Former US prisoner Lester Young fill us in on how to trade behind bars. (Photo: A prison in Louisiana State Penitentiary, Credit: Getty Images)