Michael Porter is generally recognized as the father of the modern strategy field and has been identified in a variety of rankings and surveys as the world’s most influential thinker on management and competitiveness. He is also a leading authority on the application of competitive principles to social problems such as health care, the environment, and corporate responsibility. Porter is the Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at the Harvard Business and the author of 18 books and over 125 articles. He received a B.S.E. with high honors in aerospace and mechanical engineering from Princeton University in 1969; an M.B.A. with high distinction in 1971 from the Harvard Business School, where he was a George F. Baker Scholar; and a Ph.D. in Business Economics from Harvard University in 1973. In 2001, Harvard Business School and Harvard University jointly created the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, dedicated to furthering Porter’s work.
Question: Should we just leave Africa alone?
Michael Porter: I’m struck by the difference between the European Union and the U.S.’s efforts at economic development.
The European Union, by having a systematic process, was able to assimilate dozens of countries that were communist societies, and in the course of a relatively small number of years, really work with them to create a market system and a good society in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, you name it.
And yet the U.S., this wonderful economic power, has not really been able to do anything remotely as effective with Latin America, or Africa, or some of the continents that we’ve had an interest in.
We’ve brought some of this on ourselves. I can’t quite understand why the U.S. has had such a limited and narrow view of its role in assisting other nations and enhancing their societies, but I think we’re paying the price for that. The U.S. has actually been the extraordinary driver of many of these changes in the global economic system, certainly.
Recorded on: June 11, 2007