Bionomics: Economy as Business Ecosystem Bionomics: Economy as Business Ecosystem
By Michael Rothschild
2004/06 - Beard Books
1587982196 - Paperback - Reprint - 441 pp.

This fresh and engaging statement of a new economic theory is well presented and well illustrated.

Publisher Comments

Categories: Banking & Finance

A path-breaking and engrossing book, Bionomics calls for a fundamental rethinking of economics. In sharp contrast to traditional "economy as machine" thinking, where "economic engines jump start and fire on all cylinders," Bionomics argues that a market economy is best understood as a living, evolving ecosystem. Encoded information-DNA in one realm and technological know-how in the other-is the very essence of both biology and economy. Skillfully weaving vivid stories and examples into a compelling tapestry, the author argues for a profound change in our worldview and a new understanding of how government can and cannot foster prosperity.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Revolutionary. . . signals a fundamental shift in the way people should think about economics. . . A fascinating and highly creative alternative to the way conventional economics views the world. . . integrates important and disparate findings into a new perspective. . . The paradigm laid out in Bionomics harmonizes liberty, prosperity, and ecological integrity. The book's greatest impact, however, will come if it helps people understand the pervasive reality of economic forces and how they can be harnessed to achieve prosperity and progress.

From The Boston Globe: 

Alfred Marshall, the great Victorian codifier of economics, yearned for the day when its analogies would be borrowed from biology instead of physics. A century after Marshall expressed that wish, it's finally coming true. . . Michael Rothschild has spun a fascinating mixture of war stories from corporate battles, illustrations from biology, and anecdotes from the history of technology. . . The best case yet made for the biological analogy, what the author calls 'the bionomic perspective.'

From Fortune Magazine: 

Word-of-mouth popularity is turning 1990's little-noticed Bionomics: Economy as Ecosystem into a policymakers' version of The Celestine Prophecy. . . The book is even on Newt Gingrich's famous reading list.

From Houston Chronicle: 

If you're involved at all in studying or practicing in the market economy, I'd recommend reading this book. I give it the highest praise I can.

From Fort Worth Morning Star: 

Bionomics is a stunning interdisciplinary achievement by a brilliantly articulate new advocate of the free market.

From George Gilder, The Washington Times:

In a book as shocking and unexpected as the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, Michael Rothschild has revitalized the economics of freedom and prosperity. . . Tearing down the wall separating economics from the rapidly advancing biological sciences, Mr. Rothschild demonstrates that capitalism is not merely desirable, or efficient, or productive; it is as essential to life as sex. . . His work is lucid, flexible and sophisticated in its command of contemporary biology and clear grasp of contemporary economics and business strategy.

From Human Events: 

Michael Rothschild is a born storyteller. . . Fascinating.

From Esther Dyson, Editor, Release 1.0 & Forbes columnist: 

Shattering the paradigm 'society as machine' and replacing it with 'society as living thing,' Michael Rothschild clarifies ideas that been floating through the work of the most innovative thinkers in a context people really care about--markets and business. Bionomics will change the way you think about your everyday life.

From Reason: 

Rothschild's ideas are fresh. Both supporters and foes of capitalism have tended to use the same arguments for generations. But Rothschild is a pathfinder. . . Bionomics is a broad, sweeping work that largely succeeds in explaining the morality and necessity of capitalism in a manner that the sophisticated non-economist can understand. Readers who like Gilder (or Hayek) will find Bionomics very much to their taste, but Rothschild's work should also appeal to those readers who simply enjoy large, sweeping books about how the world works. . . Rothschild's book is the nonfiction equivalent of a hearty five-course feast or a Victorian novel. If he continues in his career of producing sweeping syntheses, he will find the large and grateful audience James Burke or Douglas Hofstadter have found--readers hungry for knowledge and tired of surviving on severely restricted diets.

From Library Journal: 

This fresh and engaging statement of a new economic theory. . . is well presented and well illustrated by example and analogy . . . Different from the spate of futurist tomes about the world of tomorrow in a dozen ways. . . it is highly enjoyable and absorbing reading. . . unusual and accessible.

From Susan Low Bloch, Professor of Law, Georgetown University: 

In this provocative, dynamic book, Michael Rothschild moves the social sciences in the correct direction--away from a too sterile reliance on physics and toward a more fruitful relation with evolutionary biology. His clear writing, careful research, and creative analogic thinking produces remarkably timely and useful insights into the dynamics of capitalism, the decline of socialism in Eastern Europe, and the perils facing a bloated, debt-ridden American economy. It is "must reading" for everyone interested in economics, biology, and the future of the civilized world.

From Bruce Henderson, Founder, The Boston Consulting Group: 

One of the most fascinating books about business that I have ever read.

From Donald Petersen, Retired Chairman, Ford Motor Company: 

Marvelous. . . one of those rare books that start you thinking along entirely new lines. . . fascinating.

From Clyde V. Prestowitz, Jr., President, Economic Strategy Institute, Author of Trading --Places :

A landmark work which is a must read for anyone concerned about technology, economics and the future.

From Jel Mokyr, Professor of Economics and History, Northwestern University:

Bold, original, and highly innovative, Bionomics scorns the constrictive boundaries among disciplines observed by professional scholars. It combines economics, biology, and a historical analysis of capitalism to make a powerful case for free enterprise. Mr. Rothschild insists that the economy should be viewed in ecological terms, rather than the mechanical terms of equilibrium economics. Critical and opinionated, the book will delight some and infuriate others, but its freshness and intellectual chutzpah make it impossible to ignore.

From Bernd Heinrich, Professor of Zoology, University of Vermont: 

[An] exciting expose of the cores of biology, economics, and important aspects of history, all packaged into one coherent visionary synthesis. Especially in our era of fragmenting knowledge, it is a thrill to discover that a simple idea can explain so much. This book delights, and outrages, and it is never dull.

From Kenneth E. Boulding, Emeritus Professor, University of Colorado Past President, American Economics Association: 

"This book could well become a classic work. . . It brings together with great skill the essential findings of modern ecology and evolutionary theory and the general theory of market economy. The author has produced a superb learning experience. Students in almost any field would learn a good deal from the book. It is constantly illustrated by good stories and examples." 

Michael Rothschild earned his law and MBA degrees simultaneously at Harvard. He began his career in strategic consulting, working in many industries. He lives with his family near San Francisco.

Illustrations ix
Preface xi
Acknowledgments xvii
Introduction: Genes and Knowledge 1
Part I Evolution and Innovation 13
Chapter 1: Hints of Change 15
Chapter 2: Theories of Change 28
Chapter 3: Darwin's Vision 37
Chapter 4: The Mythical Machine 44
Chapter 5: Life's Pulse 54
Chapter 6: Brains and Tools 64
Chapter 7: Technology's Rhythm 72
Part II: Organism and Organization 79
Chapter 8: Form and Function 81
Chapter 9: Design by Compromise 91
Chapter 10: American Perestroika 99
Chapter 11: A Commons Fallacy 106
Part III: Energy and Value 115
Chapter 12: Surplus and Genes 117
Chapter 13: Profits and Technology 127
Chapter 14: Savings and Taxes 141
Part IV: Learning and Progress 153
Chapter 15: Survival Training 155
Chapter 16: Organizational Learning 165
Chapter 17: The Universal Curve 177
Chapter 18: Japan's Secret Weapon 188
Part V. Struggle and Competition 203
Chapter 19: Escape through Diversity 205
Chapter 20: Economy as Ecosystem 213
Chapter 21: Divide and Prosper 226
Chapter 22: Ending Poverty 235
Part VI. Feedback Loops and Free Markets 253
Chapter 23: Spontaneous Order 255
Chapter 24: Rules vs. Prices 267
Part VII. Parasitism and Exploitation 283
Chapter 25: The Hook 285
Chapter 26: Private Corpocracy 293
Chapter 27: Public Bureaucracy 306
Part VIII. Mutualism and Cooperation 321
Chapter 28: Soviet Capitalism 323
Chapter 29: Global Coevolution 334
Postscript: Bionomics vs. Social Darwinism 343
Notes 351
Index 409

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