Is China's growth sustainable?

Management Executive

Thomas A. Stewart is the Chief Marketing and Knowledge Officer (CMKO) of the global management consulting firm Booz & Company. Stewart most recently served as editor and managing director of Harvard Business Review, and is a best-selling author, an authority on intellectual capital and knowledge management, and an influential thought leader on global management issues and ideas.

During Stewart’s six years with Harvard Business Review, the magazine was a two-time finalist for general excellence in the National Magazine Awards, and received an “Eddie” in 2007 from Folio Magazine.

Previously, Stewart served as the editorial director for Business 2.0 and as a member of Fortune’s Board of Editors. He is the author of two books, Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organizations, and The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the 21st Century Organization, published by Doubleday Business in 1998 and 2003, respectively.

Stewart is a fellow of the World Economic Forum. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, and holds an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Cass School of Business at City University, London.

  • Transcript


Question: Is China’s growth sustainable?


Tom Stewart: Nothing known to economic history grows at 10% a year; unendingly. At a certain point you’re starting to add the law of large numbers as it’s called; as they call it; catches up with you. And the curve will flatten. What is interesting is whether the curve will flatten before or after the rising expectations of those populations.

China right now is clearly trying to skate over some thinning ice hoping that its economic growth gets it there before social unrest catches it. And there’s social unrest in a lot of places in China, and they’re working at social unrest on the one hand and environmental catastrophe on the other. So can they grow fast enough to keep the social unrest from happening from the right . . . ______ of rising expectations, and at the same time leave a landscape that is not blighted and polluted beyond sustainability? It’s a rather extraordinary to watch.

June 22, 2007