The opening ceremony of the 11th World Forum saw Professor Michael Shuman take stage. At the end of his speech, he offered us further enlightenment on his research, his theories and hopes for the three days ahead.
Professor Shuman, during your allocution, you put forth the advantages of local entrepreneurship and investment. Is the defence of this idea a call for protectionism, or can this vision keep up with that of globalization?
I think it’s important to distinguish between protectionism and consumer choice. When a consumer chooses a good service because it is a better value, and that it remains a local service, that’s not protectionism. When an investor chooses to put his or her money, into a local business or a local project because there is value in that, that is not protectionism.
Protectionism is when the government sets up barriers preventing non-local investment. Right now, the structure of law throughout the developed world tends to give an advantage to non-local business. I think, we have a protectionist structure in place right now that favours the global over the local. We need to dismantle it.
Do you believe that changes should be essential in terms of governance and that public authorities should take the first step?
I don’t expect States to take the steps, but I think grass-roots in a democracy can press the State to change the Law. Usually, what we’ve also found in the United States is there is support for these changes from both conservatives and progressives. The only people opposed and who aren’t popular to begin with are securities, lawyers, who might lose some business.
You are the author of the ‘Third Revolution’ and your presence at the 11th World Forum is to discuss the revolution afoot. Do you believe that this is an inevitable revolution, or that humankind needs such a process?
The things that I have written on are mostly about the need for an investment revolution. I feel that we are going to have to be very deliberate in re-shaping the laws, institutions and practices around local investment. We have found that, in United States for example, very few people are doing it. That is, even though we’ve changed the law both in 37 states and nationwide to make investment easier. Reason being, we haven’t and now need to educate investors and businesses to do so and we need to mobilize them. I see this as a long road ahead.
What do you hope this 11th World Forum will achieve?
What I try to do in my talks – and I think there is resonance with people I have talked to about it – is to add to the political agenda the specifics of the third industrial revolution. Those are specifics of energy and green buildings and circular economy, and add to those the investment piece. I feel that there is no deep understanding about how broken that piece is. Hopefully, one of the things I that comes out of these three days is the raising of this priority: fixing a broken investment to do everything else.
11A - Matthieu Metivier