Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
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Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Great Transition (High-Concept Version)

"...Consequently, the greybeards summarily expelled both philosophy and history from the graduate economics curriculum, and then they chased it out of the undergraduate curriculum as well. This latter exile was the bitterest, if only because many undergraduates often want to ask why the profession believes what it does, since their own allegiances are still in the process of being formed. The excuse tendered to repress this demand was that the students needed still more mathematics preparation, more statistics, and more tutelage in “theory,” which meant in practice a boot camp regimen consisting of endless working of problem sets, problem sets, and more problem sets, until the poor tyros were so dizzy they didn’t have the spunk left to interrogate the masses of journal articles they had struggled to absorb.

How this encouraged students to become acquainted with the shape of the economy was a bit of a mystery—or maybe it telegraphed the lesson that you didn’t need to attend to the specifics of actual existing economies.10 It was brainwashing, pure and simple, carried out under the banner of rigor. Then, by the 1990s there was no longer any call for offering courses in philosophy or history of doctrine any longer, since there were no economists with sufficient training (not to mention interest) left in order to staff the courses."

Indeed. Perhaps the most depressing part of my own tiny career so far has been seeing the yawning gap between economics as it's theorized, economics as it's taught - and economics as it's lived and practiced.

Suffice it to say, then, that economics is in the initial, tiny throes of a titanic paradigm shift. Too much toxic water has passed under the bridge - and will pass - for econ as we know it to be resurrected, I'd venture. Consider, for a second, just how long - and how deep - the depression we're entering now is likely to be. How seriously will, then, the axioms of yesterday be taken by a dazed, shocked world - still baffled by seemingly unrecoverable prosperity - in, say 2012? 2015?

Econ's next great paradigm is going to be founded on people - not product. As, when you think about, it was in Adam Smith's day.

-- umair // 11:42 PM // 0 comments


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