The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics

( 9 )

Overview

What is wealth? How is it created? And how can we create more of it for the benefit of individuals, businesses, and societies? In The Origin of Wealth, Eric Beinhocker provides provocative new answers to these fundamental questions.

Beinhocker surveys the cutting-edge ideas of economists and scientists and brings their work alive for a broad audience. These researchers, he explains, are revolutionizing economics by showing how the economy is ...
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Overview

What is wealth? How is it created? And how can we create more of it for the benefit of individuals, businesses, and societies? In The Origin of Wealth, Eric Beinhocker provides provocative new answers to these fundamental questions.

Beinhocker surveys the cutting-edge ideas of economists and scientists and brings their work alive for a broad audience. These researchers, he explains, are revolutionizing economics by showing how the economy is an evolutionary system, much like a biological system. It is economic evolution that creates wealth and has taken us from the Stone Age to the $36.5 trillion global economy of today.

By better understanding economic evolution, Beinhocker writes, we can better understand how to create more wealth. The author shows how "complexity economics" is turning conventional wisdom on its head in areas ranging from business strategy and organizational design to investment strategy and public policy. As sweeping in scope as its title, The Origin of Wealth will rewire our thinking about the workings of the global economy and where it is going.
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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Economic Literature Review
The Origin of Wealth is a frontal attack on neoclassical economic theory.
Management Today
Unquestionably the most important business book of the year.
—(John Kay)
Martin Wolf
...a brilliant, thought-provoking and wide-ranging book...anybody interested in understanding why we are where we are should read it. For me, it was more than the business book of 2006; it was the book of 2006.
The Financial Times
The Motley Fool
Eric Beinhocker's The Origin of Wealth ties risk management, incentives, and human psychology together with many other criteria, all under one philosophical framework.
WIRED magazine
In this ambitious tome, Beinhocker jettisons the math-based canon of economic history and recasts it as a teeming evolutionary stew... Its premise is novel and sweeping.
—(Josh McHugh)
Publishers Weekly
Accounting for the creation of wealth has long challenged humanity's best minds. For business readers and academics, Beinhocker is a zealous and able guide to the emerging economic paradigm shift he calls the "Complexity Economics revolution." A fellow of the economic think tank McKinsey Global Institute, he rejects traditional economic theory, based on a physics model of closed systems, in which change is an external disruptive shock. Instead, he outlines an open, adaptive system with interlocking networks that change organically, reflecting the interaction of technological innovation, social development and business practice. Wealth is created to the degree that this interaction decreases entropy in favor of "fit order" that meets human needs, desires and preferences. Beinhocker is sufficiently comfortable with this evolutionary model to advocate a comprehensive redesigning of institutions and society to facilitate it. He argues for corporate policies that favor many small risks over a few big ones and recommends restructuring financial theory to favor growth and endurance rather than short-term gains. Though he asserts that complexity economics can reduce political partisanship and increase social capital, Beinhocker stops short of saying that it cures sexual dysfunction. By the end, the concept emerges as a great idea that the author tries to make a panacea. (June 1) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578517770
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2006
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 527
  • Sales rank: 1,006,182
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The question 3
2 Traditional economics 21
3 A critique 45
4 The big picture 79
5 Dynamics 99
6 Agents 115
7 Networks 141
8 Emergence 161
9 Evolution 187
10 Design spaces 221
11 Physical technology 241
12 Social technology 261
13 Economic evolution 279
14 A new defnition of wealth 299
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Thought-provoking economic theory exposition

    In this massive, erudite book, Eric D. Beinhocker offers a history of economics, and an informative discussion of the scientific basis and shortcomings of conventional economic wisdom. He is strongest as he explains the steadily diminishing scientific credibility of "Traditional Economics," and offers "Complexity Economics" as a more useful theory. He says it better accounts for changeable, evolving markets with irrational actors, dynamic networks and mutual influence between micro- and macro levels of economics. If nonexperts find his discussion of evolution, complexity and chaos a bit diffuse, that may be because this conceptual exposition is not intended to be light reading. In fact, Beinhocker's less scholarly policy recommendations are also less persuasive. getAbstract finds that he does an excellent job of introducing a serious problem with traditional economics.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2006

    The Origin of Wealth - This is a superlative book.

    Beinhocker introduces the emerging field of 'complexity economics' in a clear and logical manner. His depth of research and knowledge is astounding. He draws on apposite information from all fields in each he has a firm grounding of knowledge, and from each he illuminates critical aspects to forcefully project his arguments. His endnotes are extensive. This is a truly outstanding work I recommend it highly for anyone in any field.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2006

    An excellent introduction to a changing field

    Complex adaptive systems and emergent behavior are big things in the science world, and this book explains how they can lead to better economic understanding. Economics has resisted science for centuries but the two are finally starting to come together again. Better data and computer processing are making it easier to dismiss the centuries old fundamentals of common economics and instead look at more reasonable explanations. This book gives a superb look into modern economic thoughts and is written for a general audience.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2006

    A phenomenal mind changing book

    First, the other review is simply incorrect - this book has nothing to do with Social Darwinism. In fact if the reviewer had read p. 13, the author describes old views of Social Darwinism as 'repugnant.' Instead, this book is about a modern revolution in economics that will affect us all. Evolutionary theory and complexity theory are fundamentally changing how economists think about the world. The author does a superb job of making this cutting-edge work understandable to non-economists and exciting, and he discusses what it means for business and politics. I also read Freakanomics recently and thought this was far more interesting and profound.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2006

    This sounds like Social Darwinism

    There is nothing new in the ideas of market fundamentalism, and no progressive thinker should expect to be 'entertained' by notions held dear by the robber barons of the past.

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    Posted October 30, 2009

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    Posted October 26, 2008

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