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The Fourth Economy: Inventing Western Civilization Paperback – July 11, 2011
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About the Author
Working as a business consultant for Franklin-Covey and ProChain Solutions, Inc., Ron Davison has worked with some of the world’s largest and best-performing corporations. For Covey, Ron had the good fortune to lead the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Principle Centered Leadership seminars. With ProChain, Ron works with project teams inside of Fortune 500 firms to accelerate their development of new products as varied as diapers, computer chips, pharmaceuticals, and stents. Ron’s first full time job was to take over the operation of a 22-employee restaurant- bakery when he was 17. Ron has hosted a radio show, taught macroeconomics, was part of the organization to first host a trade show featuring American companies in Hanoi, and spoken in a variety of venues that include systems thinking conferences and Deming User Groups. Ron has previously created A Change in Thinking, a video on systems thinking. The Fourth Economy: Inventing Western Civilization is his most audacious attempt yet to make this a better world.
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I learned of “The Fourth Economy” by reading Taylor Pearson’s “The End of Jobs.” While a solid book in its own right, my favorite sections of Pearson’s book pertained to Davison’s work. I’m not going to recap the book here, because you can get that info elsewhere. But if you wonder why jobs are getting harder to find even for knowledgeable people with top degrees, and have wrestled with what to do about it for yourself or how to advise your kids, this book will give you a clearer “big picture” to answer these questions than anything else I’ve found.
Cheers Davison. This is damn fine work.
When I met with the author, Ron Davison, in San Diego, I told him it was the most influential book on my thinking I’d read since the Communist Manifesto at 18 and spent the next 3 years of my life chasing rabbits down socialist, ideological tunnels.
He was gracious enough to chuckle. Ron is both more humble than Marx and in much better touch with reality. To the extent that book predicts the future, it continues existing trends into the future rather than predicting unprecedented revolution.
I’ve probably recommended the book to fifty people in that time with as far as I can tell one person actually taking me up on it. The book is both incredibly dense and relatively long. Despite what you can tell is painstaking work to provide example and analogies, the concepts are complex and profound, all making it poorly summed up in bar talk.
It's astounding for the breadth and depth of human history that’s able to integrate into a single coherent framework.
The book has stuck with me in large part because I’ve seen the implications play out in my personal life and inside organizations I’ve worked with. While I don’t have anywhere near the macro-perspective that Ron has, I have seen the changes he’s describing on a micro, company by company, individual by individual level.
In an effort to improve success rate in recommending the book, I'd wrote a relatively brief, very rough annotated summary of the overall concept, and an exploration of the concepts I found most interesting in the book in terms of their implications on the day-to-day work of entrepreneurs and organizations. - http://taylorpearson.me/the-fourth-economy/
What is most impressive to me is the framework that he provides, showing western civilization's move from a traditional economy in the Dark Ages, through an Agricultural Economy (1300-1700 CE), to an Industrial Economy (1700-1900 CE) and finally a Knowledge Economy (1900-2000 CE). Davidson has created a structured approach that looks at these economies in terms of their type, the intellectual revolution that they both fostered and built on, the "big" social inventions that were required to let them progress, the major social revolution that sat at their core, and the limit to progress that ultimately was overcome and led to the next advance.
Davidson believes that we have reached the end of the Knowledge Economy, where the limit was initially the need for "knowledge workers" that we now have in abundance thanks to our advances in education in the last century. He believes that we have entered our 4th Economy, which he calls "Entrepreneurship" and makes a number of predictions about how that economy will evolve over the next 50 years.
Davidson has an excellent writing style that is engaging and often highly humorous. Despite the broad scope and big ideas he covers, his structure allows you to follow along. I found it to be an amazing, and extremely enjoyable intellectual adventure. I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to better understand the growth of western civilization.