Commentary: Carlo De Benedetti's Failings Were Italy's, Too

The ouster of Carlo De Benedetti from the chairman's spot at Olivetti is the saddest chapter in one of the most remarkable business stories in postwar Italy. Looking for an explanation for his dramatic fall, many European commentators have focused on De Benedetti's stubborn refusal to pull out of the PC business, where Olivetti has been hammered. That's true, as far as it goes. But a simple error of judgment, combined with a good dose of corporate chieftain's hubris, does not explain everything about the De Benedetti saga. It's also important to consider how much De Benedetti's failures stemmed from Italy's Machiavellian and narrow-minded business culture.

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