Long Run Initiative: Applying Hindsight to Foresight

2 10 2018

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As a business historian who knows many of its creators, it is my pleasure to announce the creation of the Long Run Initiative, forum for academic experts, business leaders & public policymakers. It provides insights from the analysis of long-run experiences and trends to provide context and deepen understanding of the grand challenges facing businesses and government. LRI analysis focuses on where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going. I genuinely believe that this non-profit venture will improve decision-making in the public and private sector around the North Atlantic space. As a scholar and a citizen who is concerned about the nature tendency of humans to focus on the short-term future, I am very pleased see the launch of a venture that will promote long-term thinking. So much has been said and published recently about the problem of short-termism (see the recent FT piece by Larry Summers) and it is nice to see something being done about it. I am especially encouraged that the venture will help to translate business-historical and economic-historical research into actionable information for decision-makers. The founders of the Initiative (Prof. John Turner (UK)Dr. Laurence B. Mussio (Canada)and Dr. Michael Aldous (UK)) are to be commended!

The LRI’s Board of Governors include some senior figures, including:

  • Sir Jonathan Stephen Day, CBE (former Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, UK) (United Kingdom)
  • The Hon. Kevin Gordon Lynch, former Clerk of Her Majesty’s Privy Council for Canada and Chairman of the Board of SNC Lavalin (Canada);
  • William Arthur Downe, CM, Immediate and Past Chief Executive Officer of Bank of Montreal Financial Group (Canada);
  • Dr. Judy Stephenson, The David Richards Fellow in Economic History, Wadham College, Oxford (United Kingdom)
  • Dr. Geoffrey Jones, Isidor Straus Professor of Business History, Harvard University (USA)

I am particularly interested in the LRI as some of my current papers are on the subject of how decision-makers use historical knowledge. My research findings to date suggest that the one of the reasons old companies have a competitive advantage is that they have built up a bank of very useful historical knowledge in their internal archives. In the video below, you can see one of my research collaborators presenting some research we did on the use of historical knowledge in a financial institution. My hypothesis is that retention and correct utilization of historical knowledge helps to explain corporate longevity.


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