Sir John Kay

From the pin factory to the iPhone – the complete history of capitalism – The Adam Smith Lecture

Sir John Kay is an economist whose career has spanned the academic world, business and finance, and public affairs. He has held chairs at the London Business School, the University of Oxford and the London School of Economics and is a Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford, where he began his academic career in 1970.  He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

From the pin factory to the iPhone – the complete history of capitalism

This lecture describes the changes in the nature of production and business organisation since the days of Adam Smith. Value is more and more the result of embedded collective intelligence, relatively less and less the result of material content. The iPhone costs fifty times as much per kilo as a pin.  And it is a quarter of the weight and a quarter of the price of the first generation of mobile phones while having far greater functionality. The modern business is defined and differentiated by its capabilities, not its production facilities. And the division of labour, whose importance Smith so appropriately emphasised, has developed functionally and geographically to an extent that Smith could not have dreamed of. In this lecture I speculate on how a modern Scottish economist might describe the nature and causes of the wealth of nations.

Sir Charles Wilson Building

Address: 1 University Avenue, Glasgow – at the corner of University Avenue and Gibson Street.

Access information –  here

This lecture theatre is very atmospheric, as you can see in the picture above. It has all modern facilities but retains many original features in a beautifully refurbished church building. There are good public transport links, free parking very close by in the University grounds from 5pm, plus nice places to eat or drink before the lecture if you want to make a night of it.

The venue has a hearing loop which can be accessed via a hearing aid. The best reception for the loop can be achieved by audience members sitting in one of the front six rows.

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