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Innovation Economics: The Race for Global Advantage Hardcover – September 4, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"For those of us who believe America's brightest days are ahead of us, Atkinson and Ezell offer important insights about how we can insure that innovation is at the core of our country's progress."—Jack Markell, Governor of Delaware (Jack Markell)

“Rob Atkinson and Stephen Ezell present a compelling analysis of the causes of America’s long-term structural decline, providing a very readable account of the decline in our innovation advantage.  They lay out an important agenda for learning from what other countries have done, and overcoming our barriers to making our innovation system more robust and globally competitive.”—Willy C. Shih, Harvard Business School

(Willy C. Shih)

“It was rousing to read Innovation Economics. The authors have built a thorough and extensive understanding of the wide nature and spectrum of innovation as well as of reasons why the U.S. and all nations have so many challenges to run successful innovation policy. The list of eight “I’s” is an excellent summation of the broad areas that are crucial for successful innovation policy. I really enjoyed becoming familiar with the in-depth study and argumentation by the authors, and fully agreed with them.”—Dr. Veli-Pekka Saarnivaara, CEO, Tekes – Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation
(Veli-Pekka Saarnivaara)

"Atkinson and Ezell provide the definitive guide to innovation and its impact on economic prosperity. If you care about innovation, you need to read this book."—Justin Rattner, Chief Technology Officer, Intel Corporation
(Justin Ratner)

"In today's highly competitive global economy, innovation matters more than ever to a country's standard of living. But as Atkinson and Ezell so persuasively argue, this is a race in which the US is falling behind.  Even more concerning, they draw striking parallels to other countries that have followed similar paths.  This book challenges many myths about the US's long-term competitive situation, and offers important suggestions for how to reverse course. With Innovation Economics,  Atkinson and Ezell have sounded an important wake up call."—Gary Pisano, Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
(Gary Pisano)

"Innovation Economics offers a frank assessment of many of the underlying causes of our economic challenges and helps explain why recovery has remained so elusive. Rob Atkinson and Stephen Ezell have collaborated on a timely call to action: America can compete and win the global economic race, but only if we change our mindset and update many of our policies.”—Senator Mark Warner (D, VA)
(Mark Warner)

“Innovation Economics” is a valuable book. The authors are right to warn that America’s leadership in several areas has eroded much more rapidly than most Americans think. They are right to argue that classical economists are often blind to the fact that innovation is the product of ecosystems rather than individual companies and that ecosystems are fragile. They are also right to worry that “innovation mercantilism” can be much more harmful to its targets than traditional mercantilism: even if it doesn’t benefit the sinner in the long run it can seriously damage the sinned against.”—Business Books Quarterly Review, The Economist
(The Economist)

“Yet why should government support for scientific research and technology development be spared from the belt-tightening? Unless society benefits inordinately from such spending, there is no case for special treatment. In a new book, Innovation Economics: The Race for Global Advantage (Yale University Press), Robert D. Atkinson and Stephen J. Ezell forcefully present the argument for the exceptional role that science and technology play in the economy. In their book, Mr. Atkinson and Mr. Ezell define innovation as not only the generation of new ideas but also as their adoption in new products, processes, services and organizational models. In their view, the goal of policy should be to invest in and nurture the development of the innovation pipeline, from basic science to commercialization. A linchpin of innovation policy, according to Mr. Atkinson, is collaboration between government and industry.” —Steve Lohr, The New York Times
(Steve Lohr The New York Times)

About the Author

Robert D. Atkinson is president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and one of the world’s foremost thinkers on innovation economics.
Stephen J. Ezell is senior analyst at ITIF.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300168993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300168990
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #859,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Serge J. Van Steenkiste on November 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robert Atkinson and Stephen Ezell systematically challenge the ideological tenets of the dysfunctional Washington Economic Consensus that the U.S. economic elites cherish (pp. 54-56; 73-74; 78-80; 82-84; 93; 231-232; 250; 360; 363-364). Messrs. Atkinson and Ezell convincingly demonstrate that the U.S. is losing the innovation race by making the same mistakes that the United Kingdom made during its dramatic industrial decline from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s. The outcome of this decline has been trifold: 1) a decline in real manufacturing output as a share of gross domestic product, 2) the emergence of chronic trade deficits, and 3) slower per capita economic growth than most comparable nations over a sustained period of time (pp. 9; 32-56; 57-84; 360).

If the U.S. does not want to follow in the footsteps of the United Kingdom, it needs to acknowledge the gravity of the situation and acts decisively and boldly before it is too late (pp. 31-32; 62; 85-127; 162-163; 234; 250; 252; 263). Therefore, Messrs. Atkinson and Ezell call for a new Washington Economic Consensus based on the following ten principles:

1. Although the U.S. still has important strengths in sectors such as advanced aerospace and medical devices, it is no longer leading in innovation-based competitiveness. Think for example about the fast declining manufacturing sector, the more rapid growth of R&D overseas, or the relative decline in the number of scientists and engineers. This decline is expected to continue unless business, labor, academia, and the government work together (pp. 9; 17; 25; 34-46; 49-54; 59; 82; 89; 95; 97; 103; 109-124; 181-187; 227; 233; 236-237; 312).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I picked up a copy of "INNOVATION ECONOMICS: THE RACE FOR GLOBAL ADVANTAGE" last week and was pleasantly surprised. The book was well-organized and was interesting to read. Many complicated concepts were laid out and often times were reiterated with real-world examples.

The book disused on how the US stumbled into the great recession (2007-2009) and went on to explain how the US is no longer the global innovation leader (and how England declined as well).

The authors went on and warned that the global race for innovation is current under way, and unless the US government implements public policies to embrace innovation and the current mindset, we may lower our standard of living (they provide a powerful case in support of increasing R & D initiatives to support innovation).

After discussing the challenges, the authors lays out a plan (if successful) could regain its global advantages in the next 10 years.

The book was 440 pages, but was a quick read. The book was jammed with fresh ideas and relates greatly to what is currently happening in the US and is a MUST READ for anyone interested in innovation or economics in general.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a rather useless book. I had never heard about the author who is described as "one of the country's foremost thinkers on innovation economics". I understand why now. This is is not outright bad but it contain absolutely nothing new. What I had expected was an interesting synthesis, or maybe even some new arguments. Instead, I get a book that totally lacks crispness on all levels.

There is no attention to details in the book. (1) They put Korea and Taiwan into South-east Asia. Why not talk about East-Asian countries instead? (2) The refer to one survey item to decide whether the government is too big. Sorry but is that the best data you could find? They note that the survey item is probably influenced by the amount of government each country has, but then they proceed not to heed their own warning. The Chinese wants more government and that does not fit with their conclusion so it is not commented on. (3) They note that Italy boomed in the 50s and 60s, but that the UK almost crashed. Hello, do the authors know anything about post-war Europe? Both countries boomed. In any case they do not proceed with an argument. It was just a fact thrown in. The book goes on and on like this without any attention to details. Somebody might say that I am nitpicking and I am. However, the writing comes across as so bad that it annoys me. So what about the important big ideas in the book?

The big picture is also sloppy. There is hardly any reference to research. Instead we get references to other popular books about the economy, think Harvard Business Review Press style of books. There is so much good (of course also bad) research out there. I can only conclude that the authors are not familiar with the literature.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Groundbreaking original research in the area of international competitive economics, and an important first step toward assuring America’s competitive excellence in the 21st Century and beyond.
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Format: Hardcover
This book lays out a clear case for a third approach to economic policy. The authors solution rejects the heavy faith that conservatives place on markets but agrees with them on the importance of economic growth. It also disagrees with most liberals about government's ability to pick winners and losers among different companies and industries but agrees with them about the importance of income inequality and infrastructure. The authors firmly believe that countries compete against each other in the economic and political environment they create. Their book explains the need for an innovation policy to improve this environment and explains what this policy would include.

Atkinson is the President and Ezell a senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, which has produced much of the best policy research on competiveness over the last decade. They believe that most observers are underestimating the erosion of America's advantages in global trade. Until recently, much of this failure was covered up by our strong performance in a few computing industries and by the growth of debt-fueled consumption. Meanwhile the social and physical infrastructure supporting U.S. companies was not being replenished, leading to the decline of most manufacturing industries. Unlike conservatives, they believe that the competitiveness of American companies is strongly linked to the overall economic infrastructure and that this infrastructure requires sound government policies to encourage it because companies do not have an incentive to create it themselves.

But Innovation Economics is also careful to warn against the dangers of heavy government intervention.
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