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The Fourth Wave

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The Fourth Wave

Business in the 21st Century


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The wave of the future: Companies as global stewards.

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Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


What will the future hold for business? The Fourth Wave attempts to answer this question by looking far out to the horizon of knowable things. Expanding on Toffler’s Third Wave, The Fourth Wave analyzes trends that will shape the nature of business in the 21st century. At the forefront of this trend analysis is the consideration of global consciousness, ecology, environmental integrity and economics. The book is written from an academic perspective, so it is not an easy read, but the authors must have sensed this shortcoming, because they use charts to effectively summarize the information presented in the chapters. getAbstract recommends this book to anyone who wants a fresh perspective on the role business might play in the future, and perhaps should play today. Executives, change leaders and students will find this book useful and thought provoking.


The Emerging Fourth Wave

The challenges facing the world today require a shift in mindset from focusing on crises to anticipating the future. Business is in the best position to lead this shift. Two assumptions underlie this conclusion. First, business is the most powerful institution of our society and the major force affecting world conditions. Second, corporations will survive in the future only if they undergo a major shift to address individual and societal needs. There are seven trends that hallmark the change facing businesses in the future. They are:

  1. Shift in consciousness - Increasing numbers of people believe that personal consciousness is primary.
  2. Disenchantment with scientism - The growing dislike of the scientific reduction of all reality and experience to mathematical descriptions.
  3. Creation of inner sources of authority and power - The expanding use of unconscious knowing to process experience that cannot be explained or measured.
  4. Re-spiritualization of society - More people are deriving meaning and purpose from inner sources.
  5. Decline of materialism - The shift of personal...

About the Authors

Herman Bryant Maynard, Jr., is an international consultant on personal and organizational transformation and serves on the board of directors for the World Business Academy, the World Trust, and the International Center for Organizational Design. Susan E. Mehrtens is president of Potlach Group, Inc., a research organization specializing in the analysis of business trends related to global evolution and social change. She is the co-author of an ecology text, Earthkeeping , the editor of Revisioning Science , a festschrift dedicated to Willis W. Harman, and co-author of What’s Going On?

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