University of Michigan Ross School of Business

Learning from Oceania

Motivated by a challenge to design self-sufficient (for subsistence goods and services) urban neighborhoods, Professor Lovejoy looked for object lessons to traditional Oceanic cultures. These were the archetypes for small scale (small geographic area, small population) self-sufficient societies. Many of the islands were the last places settled on earth outside Antarctica, evolved in relative isolation, were self-sufficient and environmentally sustainable for millennia, and were largely undisturbed by western influences until the 19th century. Their cultures were based on concepts of social capital and reciprocity that are now being advocated for positive organizations. While traditional memories are still strong, Oceanic societies are now facing serious challenges being embedded in a global economy. This talk will outline some organizational lessons that we can take from the Oceanic experience.

Speaker: William S. Lovejoy

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