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The New Enlightenment: A Call to Arms at Adam Smith’s Panmure House

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June 26, 2019
UC Berkeley Haas press release

Adam Smith is remembered for his disdain for beggar-thy-neighbor “mercantilist” trade policies and for the “invisible hand” theorem of how to use decentralized markets to organize an economy better than any centralized authority could. To many, he is closely associated with laissez-faire economics. But those who actually read his work know that he took a much more nuanced view of markets, businesses, and government, recognizing the moral and social aspects of how individuals behave and how prosperity ensues.

In the spirit of Adam Smith—and in the recently restored Panmure House, where he lived and worked over two centuries ago—leading policymakers, academics, and business leaders will come together on July 1–2 for a major international event, The New Enlightenment. The conference program reflects Smith’s holistic view of capitalism and global competition. Invited participants will explore paths forward from the many challenges that face the world’s liberal democracies. Speakers will include former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the historian Niall Ferguson, the economist John Kay, and Weijian Shan, chairman and CEO of the Hong Kong–based private equity firm PAG Group.

The New Enlightenment conference is the result of a transatlantic intellectual partnership between Edinburgh Business School, Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley Research Group (BRG), and Munich-based FWU.

“The conference aims to address the many perplexing management, policy and global governance issues that go to the heart of sustaining the prosperity, vitality, and perhaps even the very viability of liberal democracies in the coming decades,” said David Teece, a professor at Haas School of Business, chairman of BRG, and the initiator and organizer of the conference. “We hope to begin important conversations that will shape critical policy and management decisions long into the future.”

Smith’s final home, Panmure House, has been rescued and restored by the Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University. Panmure will now be reliving its heyday as a seat of the Scottish Enlightenment, having formally reopened in November 2018 as a modern hub of economic debate and scholarship. “This is a very special venue for an uncommonly talented and committed group of global citizens and thought leaders,” said Teece, Panmure House’s inaugural Adam Smith scholar-in-residence.

Professor Heather McGregor, executive dean of Edinburgh Business School, said, “We have designed Panmure House to bring the world to Scotland, just as Adam Smith took Scotland to the world. This exceptional gathering will ensure that the ideas debated at Panmure go on to make a practical impact in the world beyond Edinburgh, exactly as they did in Smith’s time.”

In addition to Teece, speakers from UC Berkeley include Professor Ann Harrison, dean of Haas School of Business, and Professor Barry Eichengreen of the Economics department.

Visit the conference website.

Find out more about Panmure House.

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