Living in a Non-Growth World?

Posted: August 31, 2011 by Alison in Articles/Essays
Tags: , , ,

By Juha Saukkonen
JAMK IB Senior Lecturer

I participated 2 weeks back a seminar of the Finnish Futures Research Society. The whole 2 days were dedicated to discuss the scenario of Western democracies going and even staying in low/no-growth economy. For example Leena Ilmola from IIASA (an institute of advanced simulations) has been with her colleagues lately working on Wild cards – unexpected, low probability turns in development and their impact on the global village. They can naturally be also positive but if negative, the scientific community talks about Black Swans. Just thinking about this year: the “big” events of the 2011 – Japanese tsunami, dictatorships falling in Arab world, massacre in Norway – had a low probability to happen but they did, and impacts to individual societies and the global systems we can all read about and feel ourselves. By the way, can you guess what was the forecasted probability of Lehman Brothers bankruptcy as calculated by experts at the start of 2008. The answer: 0,0000000000000000000007…

That trivial fact is rather alarming, is our ability to foresee and prepare on that level really?

However, the news of the day was: In the most recent scenarios High Growth for developed economies has become a Wild Card: it is not the probable world view from this moment to some 20 years ahead. Roller coaster ride with upturns and downturns can change to be a long period of low- or no-growth.

This rises to my mind a few questions:

  • Are firms and governments taking this scenario seriously and equipped to survive in that scenario ?
  • Are all the tools and strategies we and other business schools teach up-to-date for that new world order, or should we find and develop new ones?

I have no firm answers to my own questions, but would appreciate views and opinions from fellow IB bloggers!!! Next week I am in a seminar in Aalto Venture Garage in Espoo, listening to growth business guru Steve Blank (U can google him, or try to get your hands on his book “4 steps to epiphany”). Perhaps I will then be able to start to mould new thinking in my mind: How to grow a particular business in a non-growth world…I will keep you posted!

Cheers – Juha


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