Adrian Wooldridge

Bagehot Columnist and Management Editor, The Economist

Expert on global business, culture and politics.

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Long-time journalist for The Economist, Adrian Wooldridge speaks on a wide range of subjects from management to politics to globalisation and the economy.

He writes The Economist’s Bagehot Column and is Management Editor. Adrian was previously the "Schumpeter" Columnist. He also has served as the magazine’s Washington Bureau Chief, Los Angeles Correspondent, and Social Policy Editor (specialising in education and health care).

Adrian is the coauthor or coeditor with fellow Economist journalist John Micklethwait of six books on globalisation and business, including, The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State, The Right Nation, The Company, God is Back, the bestseller The Witch Doctors.

His newest book, The Great Disruption: How Business is Coping with Turbulent Times explains the forces that are disrupting today's business world.

The age of big government is over; the age of smart government has begun.

As leaders everywhere around the world face a dual crisis of political legitimacy and political effectiveness, dysfunctional government has become a cliché — something most of us are resigned to. As Adrian and his co-author John argue, this is a seriously limited view. There have been three great revolutions in government in the history of the modern world. Now we’re in the midst of a fourth — and the West is in danger of being left behind.

His previous book, Masters of Management: How The Business Gurus and Their Ideas Have Changed The World—For Better and For Worse is revised and expanded edition of The Witch Doctors. This book is an entertaining yet serious guide to today's management theories and gurus.

"Read it before buying any other business book."
— Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Adrian has written Economist surveys on entrepreneurship, the global search for talent, as well as on telecommunications, education, multinational companies and management consultancy.

He’s also written public policy papers on education, on meritocracy and classless society, and a book on American politics.

With his writing partner John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge has written three books on business and one book on American politics. Adrian’s next book will explore the role of religion in political and social issues worldwide.

A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Promise of Globalization is the first comprehensive examination of the most important revolution of our times. Adrian Wooldridge and his coauthor have gathered evidence from all over the world to illuminate the true character of the global economy and they offer an optimistic assessment of its real and potential impact. A Future Perfect was shortlisted for the 2000 Lionel Gelber Award.

In his book, God is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith is Changing the World, John looks at the rise of religious sentiment around the world and how it is affecting politics, culture and economics both globally and in specific countries and regions around the world.

Masters of Management: How The Business Gurus and and Their Ideas Have Changed The World — For Better and For Worse is a revised and expanded edition of The Witch Doctors, updated to include the rise and fall of the Internet boom, the Great Recession of 2008, and the more recent developments in management theory.

In The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea, Wooldridge charts the rise of one of history’s great catalysts for change, and argues that the company has become the basic unit and most powerful institution of modern society. The Company was named one of the ten best books of 2003 by BusinessWeek.

In The Witch Doctors, Wooldridge analyzes the problems that plague the modern corporation (and why they seek outside help) and the effectiveness of the solutions that management gurus have offered.

Wooldridge’s last book, The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America, is a portrait of America and of ‘American exceptionalism’ that combines the fresh perspective of an outsider with the knowledge and insight of a journalist who has been translating the American experience to the world for years and who traveled all over the country to research the book. The Right Nation profiles the radical conservative movement in America — the forces that have shaped it, the constituencies it represents, and the power that it wields in the world today.

China vs. India
Adrian Wooldridge is an expert on globalisation, with two books on the subject and ongoing interest as a business journalist. Audiences have found his remarks on China and India especially valuable. China often seems more attractive to investors in pure economic terms, but political risk changes the equation. India’s stable democracy trumps China’s autocracy and her more mature regulatory environment serves business better than China’s corruption. Adrian has more insights and more details.

The Search for Talent
Adrian has written a major piece for The Economist that examines the dynamics of the new global war for talent. There has always been a talent shortage in the hi-tech industries, but now the trend is broadening to new sorts of industries. Several factors are driving these changes: the shift toward a knowledge-based economy, demographics (fewer workers), changes in worker attitudes. The implications for business are enormous: companies now need people more than people need companies. So far, businesses are better at bringing people on-board than at keeping them for the longer term. And very few companies — or countries — have done anything to prepare for the massive exit of senior talent to retirement, even though they know it’s coming. Few people understand this issue better than Adrian Wooldridge.

The Talent Economy and the Competition of Universities
Adrian has also written a long research piece on the talent economy and the central role universities play in it. Universities are in the talent business and, until now, the United States has been the clear leader. But competition is growing abroad and between universities the competition is intensifying. This is a topic in which individuals and families, companies and countries, and, of course, the universities themselves, have a huge stake.


  • Washington Bureau Chief & columnist, The Economist
  • Author of several public policy papers and of several Economist surveys
  • Prize Fellowship and Doctorate, All Souls College, Oxford
  • Harkness Fellow, University of California, Berkeley


The Great Disruption: How business is coping with turbulent times (2015)

The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State (2014)

Masters of Management: How The Business Gurus and Their Ideas Have Changed The World — For Better and For Worse (2011)

The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America (2004)

The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (2003)

A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Promise of Globalization (2000)

The Witch Doctors: Making Sense of the Management Gurus (1996)

Measuring the Mind: Education and Psychology in England 1860-1990 (1994)


The Great Disruption

How business is coping with turbulent times

Adrian Wooldridge

Based around a compilation of his popular Schumpeter columns, Adrian Wooldridge takes a look at the forces that are disrupting today's fast-moving business world.

The disruption has many causes: the internet's rapid spread; the challenge from emerging markets in innovation and manufacturing; clever management techniques that are forcing companies to rethink strategy; robots advancing from the factory floor into the service sector; and much more. These developments are shaking business and social life to its foundations, producing a new set of winners and losers, and forcing everyone to adapt and change.

The Great Disruption explains:

  • The forces that are disrupting today's business world, and the management gurus that predicted them.
  • Who are the winners and the losers, and how institutions have tried (and often failed) to change.
  • How classic management problems, such as talent management, distribution, and outsourcing persist, but with a new twist.
  • What the future holds for companies, universities, competition and society.

It also reminds us why Joseph Schumpeter's ideas about creative destruction are particularly valuable today.

Economist Books (2 April 2015)

The Fourth Revolution

The Global Race to Reinvent the State

by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge

From the bestselling authors of The Right Nation, a visionary argument that our current crisis in government is nothing less than the fourth radical transition in the history of the nation-state

Dysfunctional government: It’s become a cliché, and most of us are resigned to the fact that nothing is ever going to change. As John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge show us, that is a seriously limited view of things. In fact, there have been three great revolutions in government in the history of the modern world. The West has led these revolutions, but now we are in the midst of a fourth revolution, and it is Western government that is in danger of being left behind.

Now, things really are different. The West’s debt load is unsustainable. The developing world has harvested the low-hanging fruits. Industrialization has transformed all the peasant economies it had left to transform, and the toxic side effects of rapid developing world growth are adding to the bill. From Washington to Detroit, from Brasilia to New Delhi, there is a dual crisis of political legitimacy and political effectiveness.

The Fourth Revolution crystallises the scope of the crisis and points forward to our future. The authors enjoy extraordinary access to influential figures and forces the world over, and the book is a global tour of the innovators in how power is to be wielded. The age of big government is over; the age of smart government has begun. Many of the ideas the authors discuss seem outlandish now, but the center of gravity is moving quickly.

This tour drives home a powerful argument: that countries’ success depends overwhelmingly on their ability to reinvent the state. And that much of the West — and particularly the United States — is failing badly in its task. China is making rapid progress with government reform at the same time as America is falling badly behind. Washington is gridlocked, and America is in danger of squandering its huge advantages from its powerful economy because of failing government. And flailing democracies like India look enviously at China’s state-of-the-art airports and expanding universities.

The race to get government right is not just a race of efficiency. It is a race to see which political values will triumph in the twenty-first century — the liberal values of democracy and liberty or the authoritarian values of command and control. The stakes could not be higher.

Penguin Press (15 May 2014)


ReviewForeign Affairs
A Call to RallyThe New York Times Sunday Book Review
The Fourth RevolutionFinancial Times
Book ReviewThe Wall Street Journal
Review — Tyler Cowen,
Brits eye our ailing governmentThe Seattle Times

Masters of Management

How The Business Gurus and Their Ideas Have Changed The World — For Better and For Worse

Adrian Wooldridge

“Read it before buying any other business book.” — Rosabeth Moss Kanter

This newly renamed and completely updated edition of the bestselling The Witch Doctors is a penetrating and engaging history of management theory that sorts the wisdom from the dross, and the wise men from the charlatans

Fifteen years ago, after, having completed a two-year research study, long-time Economist journalists and editors John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge published an explosive critique of management theory and its legions of evangelists and followers. Their work became a bestseller, widely praised by reviewers and devoured by readers confused by the buzzwords and concepts created by the management “industry.” When the book was published, ideas about “re-engineering,” “the search for excellence,” “quality,” and “chaos” both energized and haunted the world of business, just as “the long tail,” “black swans,” “the tipping point,” “the war for talent,” and “corporate responsibility” do today.

For decades, since the ascendance of MBA programs, the field of management has operated in a dubious space — as many of its framers clamor for respect within the academy while making millions pedalling ideas, some brilliant and some nonsensical, in speeches, consulting arrangements, and books. While the original book offered a damning critique, it also argued that much of management theory is valuable — making companies more efficient and productive, improving organizational life for workers, and providing sound ways for innovation while defending more entrenched plans. Updated to include the rise and fall of the Internet boom, the Great Recession of 2008, and the more recent developments in management theory, Masters of Management is a valuable crash course in the many ideas it dissects.

HarperBusiness; Updated edition (15 Dec 2011)

The Right Nation

Why America Is Different

John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge

How, in a relatively short time, did America veer so far to the right as to become incomprehensible to Europe, as it would no doubt be to Richard Nixon? And why is it likely to remain so no matter who occupies the Oval Office? Like latter-day de Tocquevilles, English journalists John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge explain this new America, and the conservative movement that shaped it, with a freshness and clarity that elude most native observers. The Right Nation is an indispensable guide to the mystery of American difference that will illuminate readers on both the right and left.

Penguin (1 Sep 2005)

God Is Back

How the Global Rise of Faith Is Changing the World

John Micklethwait and Adrian Woodridge

Two Economist writers show how and why religion is booming around the world and reveal its vast effects on the global economy, politics, and more.

On the street and in the corridors of power, religion is surging worldwide. From Russia to Turkey to India, nations that swore off faith in the last century — or even tried to stamp it out — are now run by avowedly religious leaders. Formerly secular conflicts like the one in Palestine have taken on an overtly religious cast. God Is Back shines a bright light on this hidden world of faith, from exorcisms in São Paulo to religious skirmishing in Nigeria, to televangelism in California and house churches in China.

Since the Enlightenment, intellectuals have assumed that modernisation would kill religion — and that religious America is an oddity. As God Is Back argues, religion and modernity can thrive together, and America is becoming the norm. Many things helped spark the global revival of religion, including the failure of communism and the rise of globalism. But, above all, twenty-first century religion is being fueled by a very American emphasis on competition and a customer- driven approach to salvation. These qualities have characterized this country’s faith ever since the Founders separated church and state, creating a religious free market defined by entrepreneurship, choice, and personal revelation. As market forces reshape the world, the tools and ideals of American evangelism are now spreading everywhere.

The global rise of faith will have a dramatic and far-reaching impact on our century. Indeed, its destabilizing effects can already be seen far from Iraq or the World Trade Center. Religion plays a role in civil wars from Sri Lanka to Sudan. Along the tenth parallel, from West Africa to the Philippines, religious fervor and political unrest are reinforcing each other. God Is Back concludes by showing how the same American ideas that created our unique religious style can be applied around the globe to channel the rising tide of faith away from volatility and violence.

Penguin (4 Mar 2010)
Allen Lane (21 April 2009)


Peace, Love and UnderstandingThe Washington Post
God Is BackThe Telegraph
Faith In The FutureNew Statesman
Religious RevivalThe New York Times
God is BackFinancial Times

A Future Perfect

The Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalization

John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge

A Future Perfect is the first comprehensive examination of the most important revolution of our time — globalisation — and how it will continue to change our lives. Do businesses benefit from going global? Are we creating winner-take-all societies? Will globalisation seal the triumph of junk culture? What will happen to individual careers? Gathering evidence worldwide, from the shantytowns of São Paolo to the boardrooms of General Electric, from the troubled Russia-Estonia border to the booming San Fernando Valley sex industry, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge deliver an illuminating tour of the global economy and a fascinating assessment of its potential impact.

Times Books (May 2000)


“A tremendous book.”

— Newsweek “It is not just that Micklethwait and Wooldridge . . . write gloriously. . . . The book’s substance is what really makes it stand out. . . . Judged in its entirety, with all its ambition and achievement, the book is a spectacular success.”

— Foreign Affairs “[A] compelling, witty discourse . . . To explain how globalization works, and how it came to pass, Micklethwait and Wooldridge take us on an extended world tour.”

— Fast Company “[The authors’] style is familiar to readers of The Economist: smooth, witty, erudite. . . . Their book merits an A.”
USA Today

The Company

A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (Modern Library Chronicles)

John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge

From the acclaimed authors of A Future Perfect comes the untold story of how the company became the world’s most powerful institution.

Like all groundbreaking books, The Company fills a hole we didn’t know existed, revealing that we cannot make sense of the past four hundred years until we place that seemingly humble Victorian innovation, the joint-stock company, in the center of the frame. With their trademark authority and wit, Economist editors John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge reveal the company to be one of history’s great catalysts, for good and for ill, a mighty engine for sucking in, recombining, and pumping out money, goods, people, and culture to every corner of the globe. What other earthly invention has the power to grow to any size, and to live to any age? What else could have given us both the stock market and the British Empire? The company man, the company town, and company time? Disneyfication and McDonald’sisation, to say nothing of Coca-colonialism? Through its many mutations, the company has always incited controversy, and governments have always fought to rein it in. Today, though Marx may spin in his grave and anarchists riot in the streets, the company exercises an unparalleled influence on the globe, and understanding what this creature is and where it comes from has never been a more pressing matter. To the rescue come these acclaimed authors, with a short volume of truly vast range and insight.

Modern Library Inc; Modern Library Paperback Ed edition (1 Jan 2005)
W&N (21 Aug 2003)

The Witch Doctors

What Management Gurus are Saying, Why it Matters and How to Make Sense of it

John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge

The Witch Doctors is a one-stop guide to management theories, fads, and the gurus who promote them that will spark controversy, debate, and a dialogue for change. Funny, entertaining and outspoken, this is a book no American worker can afford to miss.

Mandarin; New edition edition (6 Nov 1997)
Crown Business (Dec 1996)


Adrian tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

America in Global Context

The Global War for Talent

The Talent Economy and the Competition of Universities

Political risk = business risk: India vs China


The Age of Disruption | The RSA

Reluctant Global Citizen | 1843 Podcast

The Great Disruption to business | IoD

Globalisation: What it is (and isn't) and where it's going


A human resources group:
Adrian was a hit. I sincerely appreciated the time he invested to understand our audience. We heard from many people that the conference which just ended an hour ago was the best ever, so his lead into was perfect.

A large consulting firm event:
Adrian was very personable, and I know that the partners who were hosting the conference were very impressed with his presentation and the information he shared with the attendees.

A leading global business process outsourcing company:
Adrian did a terrific job – our audience sensed a great degree of credibility from his delivery, his style and his content. He was a good fit for our kick off speaker.

A global human capital provider:
I am happy to provide a reference for Adrian Wooldridge as a speaker. I've seen Adrian speak at two different large conferences (he was so successful at the first that I personally recommended him for the second).

The first conference was our annual global partners meeting. It was a room of about 500 senior partners from around the world and Adrian spoke on globalisation and the war for talent. He was engaging, insightful and best of all — extremely funny. His humour was sophisticated and had global appeal — the European and Asian partners enjoyed him as much as our North American partners. He has a wonderful, sly, dry British wit and sensibility, and the depth of his intelligence is impossible to miss. He was one of our highest rated speakers at the conference.

The second conference he spoke at was a gathering of the Chief Communications Officers of the Fortune 500. It was a crowd of about 200, he spoke on globalisation, and he was again rated as one of the best speakers.

I personally think he will make an excellent speaker and will absolutely not disappoint.

On a final note, I would add that I am a "tough customer" and do not share this kind of praise or recommendation lightly.


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