The Puritan Gift

Tue, 11 Mar 2008 00:00 in Discussion Forums
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Where: SOAS, London
Talk by William Hopper, MA (Glasgow University), chairman of the investment bank WJ Hopper & Co Limited, formerly member of the European Parliament for Greater Manchester West, Founder Chairman of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and co-author of The Puritan Gift: Triumph, Collapse and Revival of an American Dream.

Abstract

The Puritan Gift has been declared by the Financial Times to be one of the Top Ten Business Books of 2007. However, it is much more than that – it is history of American managerial culture in the widest sense, taking in both the public and the private sector, from 1630 to the present day. It argues that:

  • the rise of America as a great economic and political power was due in large part to the excellence of its managerial culture, which derived ultimately from the Puritan Migrants who came to Massachusetts in the 1630s;
  • America ‘transplanted’ that culture to Japan when it occupied that country from 1945 to 1952, an event which led first to Japan’s Economic Miracle and then to similar Miracles in the ‘Tiger Economies’ and in mainland China; and,
  • after 1970, America whored after false managerial gods, resulting in various catastrophes ranging from the subprime credit crisis to the political failure in Iraq.

Political power hinges on economic power, and economic power hinges on the quality of corporate management. (Political power also depends on the quality of political management.) The Hoppers argue that the recent rise of political Asia, and the concomitant relative decline of political America, are in part functions of changes in managerial culture.

Biography

The Puritan Gift was written by two brothers, Kenneth Hopper, who is an engineer, and William Hopper, who is an investment banker. William was born in Glasgow, Scotland attending a grammar school in the same city and Glasgow University, where he took a First Class Honours degree in Modern Languages. After working on Wall Street, he became a Director of Morgan Grenfell, the London merchant bank. He represented Manchester as a Conservative in the European Parliament from 1979 until 1984. He is now chairman of WJ Hopper & Co. Limited, a boutique investment bank that directs capital to the developing world and elsewhere. The two things he is most proud of in his life are (a) being Founding Chairman of the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London (he still serves on its investment committee); and (b) helping to write The Puritan Gift. Kenneth and William are respectively 82 and 78 years old; neither has written a book before.

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