Taking the Floor: Models, Morals, and Management in a Wall Street Trading Room

New book by Dr Daniel Beunza, Cass Business School, published by Princeton University Press

Debates about financial reform have led to the recognition that a healthy financial system doesn’t depend solely on how it is structured – organisational culture matters as well.

Based on extensive research in a Wall Street derivatives-trading room, Daniel Beunza’s Taking the Floor considers how the culture of financial organisations might change in order for them to remain healthy, even in times of crisis.

In particular, Beunza explores how the extensive use of financial models and trading technologies over the recent decades has exerted a far-ranging and troubling influence on Wall Street and on markets worldwide. How have models reshaped financial markets? How have models altered moral behaviour in organisations?

Beunza takes readers behind the scenes in a bank unit that, within its firm, is widely perceived to be a ‘class act’ and he considers how this trading room unit might serve as a blueprint solution for the ills of Wall Street’s unsustainable culture.

He demonstrates that the integration of traders across desks reduces the danger of blind spots created by models. Warning against the risk of moral disengagement posed by the use of models, he also contends that such disengagement could be avoided by instituting moral norms and social relations.

Providing a unique perspective on a complex subject Taking the Floor profiles what an effective, responsible trading room can and should look like.

Taking the Floor will be launched at Cass Business School on Tuesday 19th November at 5.30 pm.  Details here. Read more about the book here.

Praise for Taking the Floor

“This is a remarkable look inside a Wall Street trading room through the years. The account of the organization of the trading room, its traders, and the methods and tools they use is compellingly told, and the level of engagement with the subjects is an extraordinary accomplishment.”

–  Walter W. Powell, Stanford University

“Beunza opens up the black box of a Wall Street trading room and reveals, surprisingly, a form of morality and governance grounded on unique face-to-face, trader-supervisor relationships. This book is high quality sociology at the front line of financial markets, with important lessons for the contemporary debate about the banking culture.”

– Michael Power, London School of Economics and Political Science

About Dr Daniel Beunza

Daniel Beunza is Associate Professor in Management at Cass Business School. He is also a Research Associate at the LSE’s Systematic Risk Centre.

Daniel specialises in the sociology of financial markets and his research explores the ways in which social relations and technology shape financial value. His work has been published in ‘Organization Science’, ‘Organization Studies’ and ‘Economy and Society’, among others.

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