Mohamed A. El-Erian at Project Syndicate: “One of the most difficult challenges facing Western governments today is to enable and channel the transformative – and, for individuals and companies, self-empowering – forces of technological innovation. They will not succeed unless they become more open to creative destruction, allowing not only tools and procedures, but also mindsets, to be revamped and upgraded. The longer it takes them to meet this challenge, the bigger the lost opportunities for current and future generations.
Self-empowering technological innovation is all around us, affecting a growing number of people, sectors, and activities worldwide. Through an ever-increasing number of platforms, it is now easier than ever for households and corporations to access and engage in an expanding range of activities – from urban transportation to accommodation, entertainment, and media. Even the regulation-reinforced, fortress-like walls that have traditionally surrounded finance and medicine are being eroded.
…In fact, Western political and economic structures are, in some ways, specifically designed to resist deep and rapid change, if only to prevent temporary and reversible fluctuations from having an undue influence on underlying systems. This works well when politics and economies are operating in cyclical mode, as they usually have been in the West. But when major structural and secular challenges arise, as is the case today, the advanced countries’ institutional architecture acts as a major obstacle to effective action….Against this background, a rapid and comprehensive transformation is clearly not feasible. (In fact, it may not even be desirable, given the possibility of collateral damage and unintended consequences.) The best option for Western governments is thus to pursue gradual change, propelled by a variety of adaptive instruments, which would reach a critical mass over time.
Such tools include well-designed public-private partnerships, especially when it comes to modernizing infrastructure; disruptive outside advisers – selected not for what they think, but for how they think – in the government decision-making process; mechanisms to strengthen inter-agency coordination so that it enhances, rather than retards, policy responsiveness; and broader cross-border private-sector linkages to enhance multilateral coordination.
How economies function is changing, as relative power shifts from established, centralized forces toward those that respond to the unprecedented empowerment of individuals. If governments are to overcome the challenges they face and maximize the benefits of this shift for their societies, they need to be a lot more open to self-disruption. Otherwise, the transformative forces will leave them and their citizens behind….(More)”