Chapter 2Giving Way to the New: The Boundaryless Twenty‐First‐Century Work Environment

“You cannot step twice into the same river, for fresh waters are flowing in upon you.”

—Heraclitus of Ephesus

In the summer of 2014 the Roosevelt Institute, a progressive American think tank, launched what it called the Next American Economy project, calling on experts from business, government, and academia to identify trends and challenges that would shape the economy over the next quarter century. Within a year these experts had settled on a bold claim: “The U.S. economy,” wrote Institute senior fellow Bowman “Bo” Cutter, “stands at the precipice of a transformation on par with the Industrial Revolution.”1

The model of the company man—the full‐time, permanent employee who worked his whole life for a single employer and then retired with a gold watch and a comfortable pension—reached its peak in post—World War II society, at the launch of the baby boom. And then things began to get complicated.

The digital revolution brought advances in computing and telecommunications, including the now‐omnipresent Internet, making it easier to automate and reengineer tasks. International trade agreements broke down historical barriers to the exchange of goods and services. By the 1990s, legendary management guru Peter Drucker had coined the term outsourcing to refer to the contracting of processes to others who could do them better and more cheaply. Another term, globalization, came to signify the ...

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