Meeting Uncertainty with Purpose

Monday, August 30, 2021

Post-Covid business concept of figure crossing bridge

“We know all too well the social upheaval that is caused by economic disorder. We have little choice but to seize this opportunity and to meet the challenge, or risk the prospect of these emerging nations sliding into social and economic chaos. We all have a responsibility to contribute to this great effort.”

Those words, delivered by William Davidson when he established our Institute in 1992, reflected upon the instability of the world in a post-Soviet Union era. Although the students entering the University of Michigan today were not even born at the time, the fall of the Berlin Wall reshaped the world. Obviously, the same will be said of the COVID-19 pandemic and what follows.

With each passing day, the changing nature of the pandemic is delivering fresh uncertainty around the world. It’s forcing all of us to reassess and re-evaluate in ways big and small.

However, Bill Davidson’s insights in 1992 remain just as relevant today. The tools of commercial success will play a critical role in emerging from the pandemic just as they did in the transition to a market economy from the post-Soviet era. And rising to meet the profound challenges of uncertainty has been in the DNA of our Institute since it was founded almost three decades ago. Indeed, Davidson’s founding mission for the Institute, which drives everything we do at WDI, is “equipping economic decision-makers with the tools of commercial success.”

We begin the new academic year with the knowledge that on the horizon are multiple crises in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Taken together, they threaten to set back decades of economic progress – as well as gains in education, energy, finance, healthcare and business redevelopment across all LMIC sectors.

While the speed of change may be hastening, we must and we will continue to take action, because we understand the dire costs of inaction.

Paul Clyde

Paul Clyde

Paul Clyde is the president of WDI, the Tom Lantos Professor of Business Administration and the Movses and Maija Kaldjian Collegiate Lecturer of Business Economics and Public Policy at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

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