Why Capitalism Won't Evolve in the United States
If you take a species and you put it in a new environment, its characteristics change. And that’s what we’re doing with capitalists. Capitalists are finding the place that they most need to go is no longer Boston, but Bangladesh.
Christopher Meyer is a Founder of Monitor Talent. He writes and speaks about the trends shaping business and economic developments.
Chris’ recent research and consulting have focused on the development of the Adaptive Enterprise, helping companies create the capacity to sense, respond, and adapt to changes in their business environments.
From 2004 to 2009 he was the Chief Executive of Monitor Networks, a Monitor Group company. Prior to joining Monitor Group, Chris was the Director of the Center for Business Innovation at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, from 1995 until its closing in December 2002. The Center fostered the conversation of leading issues among the business community, developed public conferences, established new services and businesses, and shared what it learned with business practitioners. At the CBI, he founded and served on the Board of the Bios Group, a venture that invested in applications of complexity theory to business.
Before joining Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, he was a Vice President and Group Head at Mercer Management Consulting, where from 1984 to 1995 he founded and built the firm’s practice in the information industries, comprising telecommunications, hardware, software, and information services and media.
Chris holds a B.A. in both Mathematics and Economics from Brandeis University and a M.B.A. (with Distinction) from The Harvard Business School. In addition, he held a University Predoctoral Fellowship in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania.
He serves on the Board of Icosystem, the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange, the Mass Nanotech Exchange, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, and the advisory Boards of LaunchCyte and Corey McPherson Nash.
Capitalism is a system that’s constantly evolving, that’s what’s good about it. And there was capitalism before the Industrial Revolution. But, when the technology of the Industrial Revolution got invented in the UK, there was already a dominant economic structure, the agricultural economy. So that technology came to the emerging economy of its day, the United States. And it was in the United States that we really developed a society built around an industrial economy.
Today the same thing’s happening again. The United States was largely responsible for the core development of information technology. Information technology has different economics and requires different business principles, different economic principles. It’s not going to happen in the United States because we have a very well-entrenched, powerful set of interests that like it the way it is. So, it’s going to be in the emerging economies that they discover the rules of the next form of capitalism. That’s the biggest idea.
Let me offer you a second perspective on that, and maybe it’s a little wonky. Based on work of Complexity Theorists and research at Santa Fe Institute, you can look at a system like capitalism as an adaptive system or a complex adaptive system. And that means that, like a biological species, it evolves. It’s made of rules the way a species is made, in a sense, of genes.
So, if you take a species and you put it in a new environment, its characteristics change. And that’s what we’re doing with capitalists. Capitalists are finding the place that they most need to go is no longer Boston, but Bangladesh. And so the emerging economies are an environment for capitalists, they will change their behavior, and that’s what will change the rules of capitalism.
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