Patricio Korzeniewicz - Global patterns of Inequality

Using “World Magnates” to Map Innovations and Creative Destruction (1500-2017)

This work uses a new global dataset of very rich individuals over to map the evolution of processes of Creative Destruction over the 1500-2017 period. Conceptually, the paper draws on the work of Joseph Schumpeter (1942). Schumpeter purposefully did not restrict his notion of innovation to technological change or manufacturing. He emphasized that epicenters of wealth shifted constantly and are not associated with any single particular array of products, market networks or institutional arrangements. New forms of raw material production, the capacity to engage in innovative forms of deploying territorial or political power, or even rent-seeking behaviors, are just as likely to be a source of creation and destruction as any other innovation labeled by some as more “productive.” But while Schumpeter sketched an initial and compelling definition of Creative Destruction, he did not systematically ground this concept in historical data tracing over time, and on a global scale, the changing configurations of innovation. This paper uses a new dataset of the world’s historical equivalents of world magnates, as an operationalization of activities generating extra-ordinary levels of wealth, to map the unfolding of processes of Creative Destruction over time and space. In turn, this allows us to advance more precise and rigorous insights crucial to the unfolding of global inequality, such as processes of Creative Destruction that are clustered temporally (e.g., in cycles of innovations), spatially (e.g., in particular cities, nations or regions) and around specific production, trade and investment networks.

About the speaker 

Roberto Patricio Korzeniewicz, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park (USA).  His book Unveiling Inequality (NY, 2009), co-written with Timothy P. Moran, won the 2010 Best Book Award of the Political Economy of the World-System section of the American Sociological Association. His current research focuses on global patterns of income inequality, social stratification and mobility.

Practical information

This seminar will take place on May 18 at 4 p.m. CET. A livestream of the semianr will be broadcasted in room S.M.004 at the Stadscampus, where cake and coffee will be provided. It is also possible to follow the seminar online. During registration you will be able to indicate how you would like to participate.


For more information, you can contact
Lukas Leitner