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Networks vs. Hierarchies: A Delicate Relationship
Niall Ferguson, a Professor of History at Harvard University, will talk about how interactions between hierarchies and networks affect innovation. He argues that the horizontally-organized networks are spontaneously self-organizing, which fosters creativity and innovation. Hierarchies, in contrast, are vertically and less spontaneously organized, which is why they seek to exploit the positive externalities of networks. A functioning, progressive society depends on those networks. However, if hierarchies start to control the networks to the extent that their self-organizing properties are lost, innovation will slow down. This trade-off has been observed throughout history, and Mr. Ferguson will discuss how it applies today.