I finished Malcolm Gladwell’s new book David and Goliath last night. I was hoping, given the title, that I would be able to extrapolate lessons for New Brunswick (David) as it competes with larger jurisdictions (Goliath). I didn’t glean much in terms of lessons for good old New Brunswick.
Like his other books, Gladwell sets out to change our minds regarding long held beliefs about things. If you read Outliers, Blink, etc. you will know what I mean.
The first part of the book makes the point that weaknesses can actually be strengths and vice versa. He uses dyslexia as an example where some very successful people have used that learning disability to their advantage.
The rest of the book is more about the inverted U curve (you might call this the “too much of a good thing…..” curve). He makes the case that initially more is better but then the marginal utility diminishes and then goes negative. His examples are money, school class sizes, punishment (specifically the three strikes rule in California), etc. Initially, reducing class size generates benefits for the students but at a point it actually makes things worse.
Gladwell completely tears the traditional story of David and Goliath to shreds. In his telling, Goliath was a mostly blind buffoon who never stood a chance.
As with his previous works, this is more Freakonomics than the Journal of Behavioral Economics but that is why he sells millions while academic articles sell hundreds.