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Creating a Learning Society: A New Approach to Growth, Development, and Social Progress (Kenneth J. Arrow Lecture Series) Hardcover – June 24, 2014

3.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Profound and dazzling. In their new book, Joseph E. Stiglitz and Bruce C. Greenwald study the human wish to learn and our ability to learn and so uncover the processes that relate the institutions we devise and the accompanying processes that drive the production, dissemination, and use of knowledge. The authors' analysis provides the foundations of an understanding of the progress and regress of nations. This is social science at its best.

(Partha Dasgupta, University of Cambridge)

An impressive tour de force, from the theory of the firm all the way to long-term development, guided by the focus on knowledge and learning. Indeed, when economic theory takes knowledge on board―with its specific features and modes of accumulation―many of the conventional conclusions break down, from the welfare properties of competitive markets to the virtues of 'comparative advantages' in international exchanges. At the same time, in learning economies, public policies and institutions are shown to play a paramount role. This is an ambitious book with far-reaching policy implications.

(Giovanni Dosi, Director, Institute of Economics, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna)

If one's attention is on the economic long run and the processes involved in economic change, innovation and learning quickly can be seen as occupying the center of the stage. Unfortunately, for the last half century, the bulk of the attention in microeconomic theorizing has been on economic statics, which is blind to these variables. This book is a welcome exception.

(Richard R. Nelson, Columbia University)

Joseph E. Stiglitz and Bruce C. Greenwald have contributed a superb new understanding of the dynamic economy as a learning society, one that goes well beyond the usual treatment of education, training, and R&D. This important work continues the quest of Stiglitz and Greenwald for an appreciation of the role of public policy in overcoming market failures, asymmetries, and inefficiencies, and it provides insights on the limits and distortions of laissez-faire assumptions of optimality. This book should be at the very center of the next wave of policy debate.

(Robert Kuttner, coeditor, The American Prospect)

[A] sweeping work of macroeconomic theory.

(Walter Frick Harvard Business Review)

About the Author

Joseph E. Stiglitz is University Professor at Columbia University and a member and former chair of Columbia University's Committee on Global Thought. He was the winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Economics. He served on President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors, and then joined the World Bank as chief economist and senior vice president. His most recent book is The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future.

Bruce C. Greenwald is Robert Heilbrunn Professor of Finance and Asset Management at Columbia Business School. He is director of the Heilbrunn Center for Graham and Dodd Investing. His books include Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond and Competition Demystified: A Radically Simplified Approach to Business Strategy Portfolio.

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Product Details

  • Series: Kenneth J. Arrow Lecture Series
  • Hardcover: 680 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (June 24, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231152140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231152143
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #474,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By George Hariton on July 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Stiglitz and Greenwald (SG) start off by arguing that learning, learning how to learn, and innovation are the key to increased productivity and economic growth. But, they point out, learning has strong spillover effects, i.e. the costs fall on the person or firm doing the learning, but the benefits accrue widely, in large part to others. Even if there are no spillovers to others, there likely will be spillovers over time -- learning today will enable even more learning tomorrow. As a result of this mismatch, governments should intervene to encourage learning (correcting a market failure).

So far this is uncontroversial. It is also not very new. Governments already provide free primary and secondary education in most countries, as well as aid to university education, grants and tax credits to companies for research, demonstration projects (DARPA for the Internet), and so on.

But SG argue that most learning happens on-the-job, within firms. (The disti9cntion between individual learning and innovation via R & D is blurred, and the authors switch between the two without warning, even though they are very different.) Furthermore, according to SG, the rate of learning and the size of the spillovers vary by sector of the economy. As well, learning in firms depends on size of firms, increasing as output increases. Accordingly, government intervention should be targeted. to sectors with lots of learning and spillovers. As well, governments should discourage innovation that would have negative effects -- encourage use of "dirty" energy, or reduce demand for labor (automation) or otherwise negative (SG really hate financial innovation).

This of course begs the question: how to pick the "good" sectors" and the "bad" sectors.
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Pure, distilled Stiglitz. To read it is to apprehend a world view of human economics (which he espouses) and also a world view that you, I or anyone could espouse to make your, my or anyone's world a better place to live, for all of us and for generations to come. Slow reading sometimes. I found myself having to "digest" rather than "read." Complex ideas in complicated sentences. Pure, distilled Stiglitz, not to be diluted but rather to be mulled over.
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Format: Hardcover
Among all economists in the English language, I hold Joseph Stiglitz to be among the most enlightened and virtuous. When I formed a "dream" coalition cabinet in 2012, he was on it. His co-author is of less interest to me -- finance geeks have been demonstrably impotent these past fifty years -- and particularly those who fall prey to mathematical formulas lacking in social integrity -- and I believe with book would have been stronger had Stiglitz either gone it alone, or collaborated with an educator such as Derek Bok. The book is also rooted in old lectures, starting in 2008, and it is focused on Kenneth Arrow's work, which is best appreciated on its own merits. See, for example:

Moral Hazard in Health Insurance (Kenneth J. Arrow Lecture Series)
The Limits of Organization (Fels Lectures on Public Policy Analysis)
General Competitive Analysis, Volume 12 (Advanced Textbooks in Economics)

The weakest point of this book, which does indeed have much to offer for anyone who cares about the future of academia, commerce, governance, and society, is that is "assumes" integrity on the part of the government, and that industrial policies are somehow going to corrupt deep ethical and intellectual failings across all major forms of organization (academia, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental/non-profit).
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Format: Hardcover
The book is a good view to the main aspects of modern economics different from the textbook. It was constructed as a lecturer in honor of Kenneth Arrow. The main thing in reality is the neglect of education in the political process. Learning by doing is practiced by most of the companies today. The authors say that the market is inefficient. Learning by doing is characterized by that. Growth will be in a steady state model is not implemented to endogenous development. The new growth theory has some aspect of that, what is described in the book. Like innovation in the global economy. The competition model is under consideration by learning and the market structure explained in a closed economy. The second part is about the industry economics and trade policy. How an infant economy can protect itself from the rest of the world to support learning by doing and develop innovations. They sahre the toughts about bad influences from foreign influences. the dynamic comparative advantage shows more to international trade than the classical arguments. The book closes with a view to patents and intellectual property rights. It ends with an behavioural model.
The reader must know the basics in economics especially growth theory, competition and price theory. You can skip the theory for a better anderstanding. it is more for the advanced economics. It is his best book so far.
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