What do insects, the weather and chaos theory have to do with the economy? According to Paul Ormerod, everything. The economy is like society itself, he argues: a complex system living on the edge of chaos. Conventional economics has always failed to predict and manage its fluctuations. Governments and businesses need to adopt quite different mindsets and less heavy-handed approaches. Hence 'Butterfly Economics'. 'A fascinating and entertaining introduction to the economics of the 21st century.' New Statesman
From the best-selling author of The Death of Economics and Butterfly Economics, a ground-breaking look at a truth all too seldom acknowledged: most commercial and public policy ventures will not succeed. Paul Ormerod draws upon recent advances in biology to help us understand the surprising consequences of the Iron Law of Failure. And he shows what strategies corporations, businesses and governments will need to adopt to stand a chance of prospering in a world where only one thing is certain.
According to Paul Ormerod, author of the bestselling Butterfly Economics and Why Most Things Fail, the mechanistic viewpoint of conventional economics is drastically limited - because it cannot comprehend the vital nature of networks. As our societies become ever more dynamic and intertwined, network effects on every level are increasingly profound. 'Nudge theory' is popular, but only part of the answer. To grapple successfully with the current financial crisis, businesses and politicians need to grasp the perils and possibilities of Positive Linking.Our social and economic worlds have been revolutionised by a massive increase in our awareness of the choices, decisions, behaviours and opinions of other people. For the first time in human history, more than half of us live in cities, and this combined with the Internet has transformed communications. Network effects - the fact that a person can and often does decide to change his or her behaviour simply on the basis of copying what others do - pervade the modern world. As Ormerod shows, network effects make conventional approaches to policy, whether in the public or corporate sectors, much more likely to fail. But they open up the possibility of truly 'Positive Linking' - of more subtle, effective and successful policies, ones which harness our knowledge of network effects and how they work in practice.
Why did VHS, an inferior video recording technology, succeed in the marketplace, driving the superior Betamax out of business? Why do big-budget, acclaimed movies sometimes flop at the box office, while low-budget, idiosyncratic films become huge hits? The answers to these questions, says Paul Omerod, remind us that economics is a science based on the workings of human society, as unpredictable an entity as there is. "Conventional economics is mistaken," claimes Omerod, "when it views the economy as a machine, whose behavior, no matter how complicated, is ultimately predictable and controllable."
In this cogently and elegantly argued analysis of why human beings persist in engaging in behavior that defies time-honored economic theory, Omerod also explains why governments and industries throughout the world must completely reconfigure their traditional methods of economic forecasting if they are to succeed and prosper in an increasingly global marketplace.