Note: This Muse is somewhat different from many previous entries. Whereas most prior entries record aspects of my doctoral journey, or make suggestions about a range of topics, this Muse simply poses a question: "What is the purpose of economic growth?".
I'm raising this question now because I realised, while re-reading some PhD notes today, that a statement that appears several times in my papers is heavily loaded. The statement is: "High company performance is an important contributor to economic growth and societal wellbeing". Today, for the first time, I realised this statement somehow assumes that economic growth and societal wellbeing are some how "good", and therefore worthy of pursuit. But why? What is the purpose of economic growth? What is the underlying driver?
Before you get too excited, I'm certainly not devaluing economic growth as such. Rather I'm asking why we humans pursue it. I don't have a clear answer right now, but I will ponder this question over the coming days, do some reading, and try to form some views.
To kick the discussion off, Benjamin Friedman, the political economist, writing in 2006, asserted that "Economic growth—meaning a rising standard of living for the clear majority of citizens—more often than not fosters greater opportunity, tolerance of diversity, social mobility, commitment to fairness, and dedication to democracy. Ever since the Enlightenment, Western thinking has regarded each of these tendencies positively, and in explicitly moral terms."
What do you think? I love to hear your ideas—considered, wacky or otherwise!
Thoughts on corporate purpose, strategy and governance; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.