When More is Not Better

Last Summer, Congressman Thomas Massie re-issued his warning about the fragility of our nation’s meat supply right here on this show. When COVID infections forced closures of a handful of highly efficient mega-packing plants, some parts of the country experienced acute shortages of beef, pork and chicken. Although a firm believer in freedom and free markets, Representative Massie spoke of the need to balance the efficiency of these large plants with resilience, and proposed the PRIME Act as a way to help smaller-scale local butchers to operate without so much red tape.

From a business management standpoint, the single-minded pursuit of efficiency has often proved, well… less than efficient. This is one of the core insights in a new book by Roger L. Martin, a trusted business strategist and Professor Emeritus at the Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto.

When More Is Not Better: Overcoming America's Obsession with Economic Efficiency asks if the American pursuit of efficiency has turned into a kind of national neurosis. With clear examples and data to back up his case, Martin warns against analogizing the economy to a machine with concrete inputs and outputs, favoring instead the metaphor of a complex-adaptive system (paging Dr. Hayek…).

Does American capitalism need an overhaul, or is it the regulation that needs reform?

Contra Ed Conard, Martin argues that productivity gains have not resulted in substantial increases in middle-class incomes. Are we even measuring the right things?

When More Is Not Better
When More Is Not Better By Roger L. Martin

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