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Why most things fail : evolution, extinction and economics / Paul Ormerod.

By: Ormerod, Paul.
Material type: TextTextPublisher: New York : Pantheon Books, c2005Edition: 1st American ed.Description: xi, 255 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.ISBN: 0375424059; 9780375424052.Subject(s): Business failures | Evolution (Biology) | Extinction (Biology)DDC classification: 330.1 | 338.74
Contents:
1. The Edwardian explosion -- 2. A formula for failure -- 3. Up a bit, then down a bit -- 4. Making sense of segregation -- 5. Playing by the rules -- 6. A game of chess -- 7. "The best-laid schemes ..." -- 8. Doves and hawks -- 9. Patterns in the dark -- 10. The powers that be -- 11. Take your pick? -- 12. Resolving the dilemma -- 13. Why things fail -- 14. What is to be done?
Summary: With the same originality and astuteness that marked his widely praised Butterfly Economics, Paul Ormerod now examines the "Iron Law of Failure" as it applies to business and government-and explains what can be done about it. "Failure is all around us," asserts Ormerod. For every General Electric-still going strong after more than one hundred years-there are dozens of businesses like Central Leather, which was one of the world's largest companies in 1912 but was liquidated in 1952. Ormerod debunks conventional economic theory-that the world economy ticks along in perfect equilibrium according to the best-laid plans of business and government-and delves into the reasons for the failure of brands, entire companies, and public policies. Inspired by recent advances in evolutionary theory and biology, Ormerod illuminates the ways in which companies and policy-setting sectors of government behave much like living organisms: unless they evolve, they die. But he also makes clear how desirable social and economic outcomes may be achieved when individuals, companies and governments adapt in response to the actual behavior and requirements of their customers and constituents. Why Most Things Fail is a fascinating and provocative study of a truth all too seldom acknowledged.
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Item type Current location Call number Status Date due Barcode
Book University of Texas At Tyler
Stacks - 3rd Floor
HG3761 .O76 2005 (Browse shelf) Available 0000001839380

Includes bibliographical references (p. [241]-245) and index.

1. The Edwardian explosion -- 2. A formula for failure -- 3. Up a bit, then down a bit -- 4. Making sense of segregation -- 5. Playing by the rules -- 6. A game of chess -- 7. "The best-laid schemes ..." -- 8. Doves and hawks -- 9. Patterns in the dark -- 10. The powers that be -- 11. Take your pick? -- 12. Resolving the dilemma -- 13. Why things fail -- 14. What is to be done?

With the same originality and astuteness that marked his widely praised Butterfly Economics, Paul Ormerod now examines the "Iron Law of Failure" as it applies to business and government-and explains what can be done about it. "Failure is all around us," asserts Ormerod. For every General Electric-still going strong after more than one hundred years-there are dozens of businesses like Central Leather, which was one of the world's largest companies in 1912 but was liquidated in 1952. Ormerod debunks conventional economic theory-that the world economy ticks along in perfect equilibrium according to the best-laid plans of business and government-and delves into the reasons for the failure of brands, entire companies, and public policies. Inspired by recent advances in evolutionary theory and biology, Ormerod illuminates the ways in which companies and policy-setting sectors of government behave much like living organisms: unless they evolve, they die. But he also makes clear how desirable social and economic outcomes may be achieved when individuals, companies and governments adapt in response to the actual behavior and requirements of their customers and constituents. Why Most Things Fail is a fascinating and provocative study of a truth all too seldom acknowledged.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

CHOICE Review

Recent books praising the value of economic analysis have enjoyed commercial success. Among them are Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's Freakonomics (CH, Nov'05, 43-1689) and Tim Harford's The Undercover Economist (2005). Ormerod (author of Butterfly Economics, CH Jun'00, 37-5789) instead chooses to highlight some shortcomings of basic economic reasoning. In this well-written treatise, he presents a wealth of entertaining anecdotes and examples of how the simplistic and abstract models economists use lack the ability to explain real-world phenomena, especially pertaining to the concept of business failure. While economists who overstate the value of their theoretical models are sound targets for this criticism, Ormerod does not present a convincing case that the typical economist behaves this way. If anything, he gives the simple models of economics far too much credit before dismissing them as having little pragmatic value. Furthermore, while recognizing and praising modern economic topics such as risk and uncertainty, asymmetric information, and game theory, Ormerod understates how increasingly well received these important advances are by mainstream economists. Ultimately, his conclusions offer little more than a restatement of the ideas of such great economic thinkers as Hayek and Schumpeter. This is worth reading for its entertaining anecdotes, but as a compelling critique of the pragmatic value of economic reasoning--reader beware. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers. H. Winter Ohio University

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Paul Ormerod was the head of the Economic Assessment Unit at The Economist and the director of economics at the Henley Centre for Forecasting in England. He has taught economics at the universities of London and Manchester, and was a founder of the consulting firm Volterra. He lives in London.

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