With the same originality and astuteness that marked his widely praised Butterfly Economics , Paul Ormerod now examines the “Iron Law of Failure” as it applies to business and government–and explains what can be done about it.
“Failure is all around us,” asserts Ormerod. For every General Electric–still going strong after more than one hundred years–there are dozens of businesses like Central Leather, which was one of the world’s largest companies in 1912 but was liquidated in 1952. Ormerod debunks conventional economic theory–that the world economy ticks along in perfect equilibrium according to the best-laid plans of business and government–and delves into the reasons for the failure of brands, entire companies, and public policies. Inspired by recent advances in evolutionary theory and biology, Ormerod illuminates the ways in which companies and policy-setting sectors of government behave much like living organisms: unless they evolve, they die. But he also makes clear how desirable social and economic outcomes may be achieved when individuals, companies and governments adapt in response to the actual behavior and requirements of their customers and constituents.
Why Most Things Fail is a fascinating and provocative study of a truth all too seldom acknowledged.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Religion eBook: Why Most Things Fail|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
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|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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Why Most Things Fail
The Edwardian Explosion
The period from around 1880 to 1910 saw the emergence of radically diVerent ways of organizing and carrying out economic activity. The consequences both for economic well-being and the wider sphere of political economy were dramatic, so we will begin by exploring the developments during this period in some detail.
The eminent biologist Stephen Jay Gould coined the phrase 'the Cambrian explosion' for the period some 550 million years ago when, suddenly, dramatic new life forms surged into being. After an immense length of time during which life had existed in only its simplest forms, far more complicated creatures came into existence. Most prospered for a while and then failed. But the legacy was the path of evolution which has led eventually to humanity.
Similarly, in the economic world, the decades around 1900 saw massive companies emerge for the first time, bringing entirely new management problems in terms of co-ordinating and organizing the operations of these vast entities. In British social history, this is known as the Edwardian period, after Queen Victoria's son who himself reigned in the opening decade of the twentieth century, a period when the British Empire dominated the world. So perhaps I might be permitted a trace of nostalgia in describing the events of this period, so important to the future development of capitalism, as the 'Edwardian explosion'.
During these few decades, we can see forms of organizing economic activity fall by the wayside as firms struggled to understand and adapt to the rapidly changing environment. Yet, at the same time, the survivors fro