Tag: Mark Taylor

In the first episode of the hit TV series “Downton Abbey,” Lady Cora Crawley gently reminds her husband of the dowry she, an American heiress, brought when she left Pittsburgh to marry him and relocate to rural Yorkshire. Her fortune saved the Abbey and Earl Grantham’s family from ruin.

“Downton Abbey” and a BBC miniseries based on Edith Wharton’s novel “The Buccaneers” inspired Olin Dean Mark P. Taylor to examine a historical trend:

In the four decades before the outbreak of World War I, 100 daughters of American business magnates married titled members of the British aristocracy.

“Given that British aristocracy was generally regarded as the most exclusive club in the world outside of the British royal family, this is a remarkable phenomenon,” said Taylor, who is British.

Taylor’s research premise is that the rapid decline in British agricultural prices—which shrank not only the income of aristocratic landed estates, but also the income of common families who owned land—led to a significant proportion of male aristocrats marrying American heiresses. American brides with rich dowries were substituted for brides from the traditional source: British families who had no aristocratic titles but did have land.

Mark P. Taylor

In “Peers, Buccaneers and Downton Abbey: An economic analysis of 19th century British aristocratic marriages,” published in the August edition of Economic Letters, Taylor provides empirical data analysis supportive of his thesis.

“This is what a year of watching TV does to an academic,” Taylor joked, referring to months of quarantining because of the pandemic.

In Britain, agricultural prices dropped because of the opening up of the American prairies, development of US railroads and the advent of steamships—”all of which led to the flooding of the UK market with cheap prairie wheat,” Taylor said.

Meanwhile in the US, high society shunned the families of wealthy businessmen. “East Coast high society was the jealously guarded preserve of families who could trace their ancestry back to the earliest Dutch or English settlers, and who socially ostracized the nouveau riche business magnates and their families,” Taylor writes.

So what were the daughters to do? Marry into the British aristocracy. Their mothers, in particular, set their sights on marrying their daughters into British nobility as a means of establishing social pedigree—at whatever the cost.

The whole trend, Taylor said, likely started with the 1874 marriage of Jennie Jerome, the daughter of New York financier Leonard Jerome, and a son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough, Lord Randolph Churchill—a union that produced Winston Churchill. Leonard Jerome settled a dowry of £50,000 on the marriage, which is about $6.5 million today.

Two years later, Consuelo Yznaga, the daughter of Antonio Yznaga, who had made his fortune in West Indian sugar plantations before relocating to Newport, Rhode Island, married the heir to the Duke of Manchester, “thereby proving that the very highest social rank below royalty was not beyond the scope of the daughter of an American business family,” Taylor writes. The dowry settlement was £200,000, or about $26 million today.

Blenheim Palace, the residence of the dukes of Marlborough. Shutterstock

“Perhaps the most celebrated (or notorious) American-aristocratic marriage of the period, however, took place at the height of the trend in 1895,” Taylor writes. The family of the American railroad magnate William K. Vanderbilt became allied to one of the most prestigious British aristocratic families when his daughter, Consuelo, married the 9th Duke of Marlborough. The dowry settlement was $2.5 million—about $82 million today. The money restored the family fortunes and restored the palatial Marlborough ancestral seat of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

Marriages to American heiresses were part of a wider, less pronounced, phenomenon whereby non-American foreign brides also were substituted for British exogamous brides with land during much of the 19th century when agricultural prices declined.

In addition, Taylor finds significant evidence of substitution for landed brides with British business family brides for the whole of the 18th and 19th centuries, which was less marked than the rate of admission for foreign brides but which increased over the course of those centuries.

In a time of agricultural decline, cash restraints may be imposed on lump-sum transfers (i.e. dowries) from landed families, “allowing unlanded but nevertheless rich families to offer higher lump-sum transfers in order to compensate for the lower level of prestige associated with non-landholders,” he writes, “a phenomenon which may perhaps be aptly termed the Downton Abbey Effect.”

(For “Downton Abbey” fans, the sequel film will be in theaters in March 2022.)

“Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, but not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy; for the apparel oft proclaims the man…” (Hamlet act 1, sc. 3)

By now, it’s no secret that Olin Dean Mark Taylor is something of an expert on William Shakespeare. Sure, he’s got degrees in economics and finance, but he also has a master’s degree in English renaissance and romantic literature.

He’s spoken frequently about the still-valuable messages Shakespeare conveys about business leadership and management and has collaborated with the UK’s Royal Shakespeare Company.

None of that has stopped him and members of his staff from having a bit of a laugh at The Bard’s expense, however. You can find the soul of this man in the dean’s office.

Poets & Quants Editor John Byrne recently visited Washington University to learn more about Olin’s program offerings, meet with students, and talk one-on-one with Dean Mark Taylor about the school’s upcoming “strategic refresh.”

According to Byrne’s just-published interview with Dean Taylor, the pair’s discussion covered a lot of ground: the potential for a one-year MBA, the future of online learning at Olin, taking leadership inspiration from Shakespeare’s Henry V, and Dean Taylor’s love of all things St. Louis (he tells Byrne that St. Louis “feels to me like one of the world’s great cities”).

Check out some of the highlights from the interview below, and stay up-to-date on Olin’s latest happenings by following Olin and Dean Taylor on Twitter.

Considering a one-year, accelerated full-time MBA program

“I think there is an opportunity for thinking about flexibility in the MBA program. The MBA has to shift in terms of what it offers. If you look at the trend of returns to MBAs, they have been declining while the costs have been increasing. People are thinking hard about the value proposition of a traditional MBA.

“One way of thinking about MBA candidates and students is as career accelerators and career changers. Some students know exactly what career they want to be in, and they are already in it. They really want to accelerate their career, get the human capital that an MBA imparts, perhaps increase their network of contacts, and do the MBA as fast as possible. Career changers would rather take a couple of years to perhaps do one or more internships and really ponder which way they want to take their career. We have to cater to both of those audiences here.”

Olin’s close-knit community 

“Olin Business School offers world-class instruction, faculty that is second to none in the world and who are very approachable. There is an intimacy in the classroom between faculty and students that would be hard to find elsewhere in top schools. Everyone who comes to Olin has a name and a story. You are well known by the faculty and supported by an excellent staff. That is one aspect of Olin that marks us out from our competitor schools.”

Olin’s first century in business

“We were one of the first business schools to be launched in the U.S. 100 years ago. We have grown from a small class of 20 or so to one of the great business schools in the world, with extensions in Mumbai and Shanghai as well as in Washington, D.C., through the Brookings Institution. We are a full-service school with a top-ranked undergraduate program, a leading MBA program, and a range of master’s programs, executive education, and a thriving doctoral program as well.”

Interdisciplinary influences on business education

“Literature really tells us a lot about human nature and the human condition. Thinking about those issues is a very important part of humanity and being an effective business leader. The performing arts are very important, particularly in a business school education. Being able to project, persuade, and get one’s views across is in one sense a part of drama.”

What Olin looks for in students 

“We are looking for individuals who are excellent and who want to pursue excellence. We are looking for people who have a strong values system and want to have a global outlook. Our vision is global and our thinking is entrepreneurial. The environment here is a very supportive one. I wouldn’t want to be up against any of our graduates in the marketplace, but I certainly would want to be one of their colleagues.”

Read the full interview on Poets & Quants.

I do a little bit of everything behind the scenes of Marketing & Communications, and part of that “little bit of everything” is analytics: Google analytics, Twitter analytics, Facebook insights, etc. So of course I was curious to see which blog posts piqued the most interest in 2016—and unsurprisingly, several of them had to do with leadership changes at Olin, as Dean Gupta stepped down and Dean Mark Taylor joined the Olin family. IMHO, the list is very reflective of the most important and influential moments from 2016.

Take a look back at Olin’s eventful 2016 through our 10 most popular blog posts:

10. A chance encounter with Tom Cruise

When a group of students studying abroad in February visited a London pub to watch the Super Bowl, they didn’t expect to sit next to Tom Cruise. “About 20 minutes into the game, we realized all at once that the man sitting at the table not 5 feet to our right was Tom Cruise, intently watching the game with some friends. Like a group of pre-teen girls at a One Direction concert, we were kind of freaking out; enough, in fact, that the manager of the restaurant came over to our table informing us with a wink that we were not to take pictures ‘of any guests,'” wrote then-Junior Colin Wells. However, the group did end up with a photo—and a great story from their time abroad. This was also pretty popular on social media—apparently, this attracted the attention of several Tom Cruise fan groups on Twitter.


9. Revised MBA rankings

A mathematical error led to a revised Poets & Quants MBA ranking and a 7-spot jump for Olin to #23. Poets & Quants’ annual ranking “combines the five most influential rankings and weighs each of them by the soundness of their methodologies,” according to P&Q editor John Byrne. Rankings are always a popular subject for current and prospective MBA students—particularly when they come with “Top 25” bragging rights.

8. The reality: 2 years after business school

“Real talk” is always popular, especially about something that is a large investment of your money and effort—and some weekends—like an MBA. MBA alumnus Abhishek Chakravarty reflected on the two years since he graduated from Olin’s Full-Time MBA program, and what he’s learned in post-grad life (This includes one of my favorite nuggets: “You don’t know what you don’t know, and that’s okay.”)

7. Student startup wins multiple top honors

Medical device startup InVitro Select had a very successful year. By April the student-founded startup had already won top honors in three competitions. We are always excited to see students finding success—and the readers of the Olin Blog appear to be, too.


6. Gupta to step down June 30

The year started off with some unexpected news. Dean Gupta announced in January 2016 his decision to step down and focus on his teaching and research. Gupta, who was appointed as dean in July 2005, has served on the Olin faculty since 1990. During his 25 years at the school, he has continued to teach and has been awarded nine Reid Teaching awards by students. Dean Gupta left a legacy of international collaboration, high student job placement rates, a refocusing on entrepreneurship, and new experiential learning opportunities.

5. New Dean named; Dirks to serve as interim

In May, Chancellor Wrighton announced that then-Dean of Warwick Business School Mark Taylor had been appointed as Olin’s next leader, following Dean Gupta’s announcement in January. “In Mark Taylor we have found a strong leader with the vision, wisdom and experience to take Olin Business School to new heights,” Wrighton said. “He is well qualified not only as a scholar, but also as a practitioner in global business and finance. I have no doubt he will strengthen Olin’s presence and reputation in the domestic and international arenas.”

4. Risks of sole-sourcing

This blog post from 2013 continued to gain enough pageviews in 2016 to land it a #4 spot in our Top 10 Most Popular Posts. Eli Snir, lecturer in management, analyzes the fragmentation of the supply chain and answers the question, “When does sole-sourcing make sense?”

3. Grad programs in U.S. News top 25

Olin’s Professional MBA, Full-Time MBA, and Executive MBA programs ranked in the Top 25 of U.S. News’ Best Graduate Schools rankings, with PMBA earning #19, MBA earning #21, and the EMBA landing #20. PMBA, in particular, jumped 5 spots from the previous year.

2. New hours for Bauer Cafe, Starbucks, Einstein’s

It might seem out of place for a post on Bauer Cafe, Starbucks, and Einstein’s to be one of the most read blog posts this year. But due to my own love/dependency for Starbucks’ Lattes and Einstein’s Asiago bagels, I understand.

1. Olin ranked #1 undergraduate business program by Poets&Quants

Earning the #1 spot in Poets & Quants’ new ranking of Best Undergraduate Programs was a great way to end the year (and head into our Centennial), and it happened within a week of Olin welcoming Dean Mark Taylor. Plus, a #1 ranking is always a great excuse to eat Ted Drewes, celebrate with friends, and take full advantage of a selfie booth.

What big changes are in store for Olin next year? I anticipate that when we dive into analytics next year, many of 2017’s most popular posts will be related to our Centennial (and hopefully more top rankings). Instead of waiting for a roundup, I’d encourage you to follow and engage with the Olin community in real time on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn (and of course, submit to the Olin Blog). See you next year!

Hundreds of students, faculty, and staff gathered at the Knight Center on Thanksgiving day for the 21st Annual Olin Feast. There was turkey, of course, with all the trimmings: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn casserole, green beans, gravy, and pumpkin pie! There was also apple pie and bread pudding, and soft serve ice cream with cookies. More than 400 people reserved places at the event and the Aramark staff always plans for more walk-ins. For many of the international students it was their first Thanksgiving experience and first time to try the traditional food unique to the American holiday.

Dean Emeritus Stuart Greenbaum, who held the first Thanksgiving Feast in 1995, and his wife attended the 2016 event, as well as Interim Dean Kurt Dirks and his family. Dean Designate Mark Taylor also celebrated his arrival in the U.S. from the U.K. when he sent his very first tweet from the festive dining hall:


Click on images below to expand. Photos by Mary Butkus/WUSTL Photos.