Thursday, February 12, 2009

Robert Bruner on Survival of the Fittest

Robert Bruner, Dean of the Darden Business School at the University of Virginia, has a wonderful little article at in which he examines why applying the Darwinian notion of survival of the fittest to the business world is not apppropriate or useful. Here's a short excerpt, which illustrates the way in which he takes apart the phrase, its meaning, and its applicability to the free market system:

"In biological terms, "survival" suggests that your DNA doesn't end with you; it is carried forward by your descendants. Survival means longevity of a genetic model, success in evolutionary terms. But from a business perspective, mere longevity is hardly success. Do we build enterprises just to survive? Don't we want to prosper? Is there no upside to being successful? Centuries of commerce suggest that to the victors belong the spoils. Much of what animates economic behavior is the possibility of gain."