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The Self-reinforcing Nature of Frontiers & Boundaries

Referenced by an investor and entrepreneur

Berlim Wall


Norwegian anthropologist Fredrik Barth states that “Boundaries and frontiers are not necessarily defined and built because of differences that naturally demand or signal the need for segregation. Sometimes it’s the other way around: it is mostly after frontiers have been established and constructed that the differences between what is set apart is actively sought and searched for. Frontiers become ever more salient and require fortification, validation and justification.”

The above assumption is valid not only for ethnic groups and countries, but also for companies and investment thinking. From a business organization standpoint, we are still prisoners of: 1) the “functional-box” based organizational structure that stresses and measures functional silos accountability, while most of the opportunities and problems arise at the intersections (requiring cross-borders, inter-functional cooperation); 2) the illusion that most of the resources at hand are tangible and lie inside our company; 3) our incredible lack of education on soft skills and humanist disciplines – maybe we are simply too equipped with scientific, engineering, war vocabularies and mental models to read into and cope with social interactions. Most of what we do is highly dependent on group dynamics. And yet most groups seem to be, well, a tiny little bit dysfunctional…