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Global Drucker Forum 2016: Considering the Entrepreneurial Society

Over at Engage//Innovate — a strategy and consulting firm, we view the challenges of the entrepreneurial society through the prism of the Norwegian oil and gas predicament.

Over the past 40 years, oil and gas has played a large role in the strong growth of our economy. About a quarter of our entire GDP is tied to oil and gas extraction.

Considering its significance to the Norwegian economy, the structural decline of the oil and gas industry which began in 2014, has spurred the government and businesses alike to rethink the state of entrepreneurial policies, politics and corporate ventures.

Building Transformational Capacities

Few could claim any reasonable sustainable solutions to the challenges ahead, and many have tried to address them in a very simplistic manner.

For instance, the Norwegian government — through overly-simplistic budgetary policies — have swept aside the complexity inherent to a global economy by simply putting more money on the table.

Drucker would have said “governments were unable to play such a role in a rapidly changing environment of globalization, digitization and accelerating disruption.”

Historically operating in a local marketplace, the companies across the oil and gas value chain within the original firm have suffered greatly in the face of rapid change due to their inherent corporate and monopolistic behavior.

Building transformational capacities in a global entrepreneurial economy is still a work-in-need-of-great progress.

Innovating for PR

While one could reasonably argue that creating space mining adventures, sub-sea factories, floating hotels and solar plants on water all indicate a corporate behavior for innovation, in reality these are little more than mere PR stunts.

The big question that arises is “what is truly the role of the state vs the entrepreneur in the face of a structurally declining oil and gas industry?”

Equally important is the regulatory intervention played by the state, through economical policies which protect the past rather than help companies think beyond tomorrow.

In a nation state where the job growth over the past 4 years has mostly been from the public sector, little evidence except for PR stunts support the notion of a truly entrepreneurial society.

The Future of the Norwegian Economy

Looking at today’s market capitalization of Tesla vs Statoil, one can clearly tell where the investors are placing the future.

In this age of digitally transparent and connected marketplaces, governments should refrain from protecting the past and instead let Schumpeter’s notion of destruction run rampant. Only then can our national economy, arising from the age of the vikings, truly grasp the entrepreneurial society.

We greatly fear that should civil and political leadership fail at their significant tasks, we will be left with the society in upheaval and disturbingly receptive to populism politics.

In the face of these challenges, the overarching priority for any executive team should not primarily be serving shareholder value, but truly taking a long-term view and build deep, lasting, transformational capacities.

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Read next:
Transforming a Nation: How We Helped Companies Build New Growth Ventures in Days, Not Years

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