The Ecosystem

A blurring of traditional boundaries will put a premium on creativity--and constant vigilance

The corporate ecosystem of the 21st century will be characterized by a blurring of once-distinct boundaries: between public and private, foreign and domestic, insider and outsider, friend and foe. The effect will be liberating in many ways. Corporations will be freer to pursue opportunity wherever in the world they find it, and to exploit it according to the requirements of circumstance, not the blind dictates of tradition. Outsourcing will become ever more prevalent, transforming many corporations into superefficient, virtual facsimiles of their old selves. But success will not come easy in this brave new world. The growing fluidity of vital business relationships will require constant vigilance and improvisation by all concerned. Like it or not, corporations also will assume a larger role in education and other public-sector preserves, taking over tasks that government either is unwilling or unable to do itself.