Harvard Business Review Press
June 1, 2006
What is wealth? How is it created? How can we create more of it for the benefit of individuals, businesses, and society?
These are the fundamental questions that Erik Beinhocker asks in this groundbreaking book. According to Beinhocker, the field of economics is in the midst of a revolution that promises to overthrow a century of conventional theory and profoundly change our thinking about economic growth and innovation.
In provocative and entertaining fashion, The Origin of Wealth surveys the cutting-edge ideas of leading economists and scientists who are reshaping economics and brings their work alive for a broad audience. Beinhocker argues that the economy is a “complex adaptive system,” more akin to the brain, the Internet, or an ecosystem than to the static picture presented by traditional theory.
Building on these new ideas, Beinhocker shows how wealth is created through an evolutionary process. Modern science views evolution not just as a biological phenomenon, but as a general-purpose formula for innovation. It is this evolutionary formula, acting on technologies, social institutions, and businesses, that has taken us from the Stone Age to the enormously complex $36.5 trillion global economy of today. If Adam Smith provided the inspiration for economics in the twentieth century, Charles Darwin is providing it in the twenty-first.
By understanding the evolutionary origins of wealth, we can also answer the question “how can we create more of it?” Beinhocker describes how new research is turning conventional wisdom on its head in areas ranging from business strategy and the design of organizations to the workings of stock markets and the world of politics and policy.
Erik D. Beinhocker is a Senior Advisor to McKinsey & Company. Fortune magazine named him a “Business Leader of the Next Century,” and his writings on business and economics have appeared in a variety of publications, including the Financial Times.