The book creatively ties other mega-trends, such as demographic shifts and advances in technology, to the evolution of capitalism, but the mash-up also leads to digressions and a disjointed narrative. And Meyer’s fondness for metaphors from evolutionary biology and complexity theory can try the reader’s patience. An elaborate lesson in the evolutionary biology of a peacock isn’t needed to make the point that pursuing return on equity at the expense of innovation weakens capitalism. I would rather have read more about digital natives in developing countries or the views of Princeton University professor Anne-Marie Slaughter on how the Internet will make the World Bank more effective. Still, if you approach Standing on the Sun as a seeker, looking for clues to what the future might hold, the book provides a lot of fresh ideas to consider.
- Ann Graham is a contributing editor and former deputy editor of strategy+business.