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Plowing the Sea: Nurturing the Hidden Sources of Growth in the Developing World Hardcover – May 30, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; First Edition edition (May 30, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875847617
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875847610
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,497,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In this well-written work, global strategy consultants Fairbanks and Lindsay address the issue of competitiveness in the developing world and advance ways to build and sustain macro, long-term competitive advantage. The authors first identify seven opportunities for leveraging a country's comparative advantage, among them improving understanding of customers, reasoning and overcoming defensiveness, and avoiding paternalism. They then discuss strategies to implement these opportunities. Finally, they offer models for action. With a foreword by Michael Porter (business administration, Harvard), this excellent book is highly recommended for academic libraries as well as for corporate executives and government officials.?Joseph W. Leonard, Miami Univ., Oxford, Ohio
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Since 1984, Harvard Business School Press has been dedicated to publishing the most contemporary management thinking, written by authors and practitioners who are leading the way. Whether readers are seeking big-picture strategic thinking or tactical problem solving, advice in managing global corporations or for developing personal careers, HBS Press helps fuel the fire of innovative thought. HBS Press has earned a reputation as the springboard of thought for both established and emerging business leaders.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Karen Gulliver on May 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a complex and multidimensional book on many levels. This book is not really about what governments can do to help their countries develop. In fact, the word "development" hardly appears. It is about the unproductive relationship between government and the private sector that wastes time and other valuable resources in emerging economies. The authors hold both parties responsible for moving on.
As stated on the first page, Simon Bolivar's epitaph reads, "Whomsoever has worked for a revolution has plowed the sea." Meant by Bolivar to convey despair and the heartbreak of failure, these words are transformed by the authors who have maintained a sense of optimism and good humor throughout their own experiences in the rugged world of transformation consulting. The Introduction, the book's first substantive chapter, is a cautionary tale of the Colombian flower industry, that prospered globally for decades, but later declined and has not yet recovered. Through this "case", seven patterns of firm behavior that inhibits economic agility are identified. The first seven chapters of the book elaborate on these patterns, wonderfully illustrated with other cases (Peru's fishmeal and Bolivia's soy industry, for example). The authors describe a sort of bratty adolescence that traps companies and industries in emerging economies. Chapters 8 and 9 are a fine application of micro principles around the theme of strategy, again focused on the firm. The authors advocate the old-fashion but culture shattering step of focusing on customers, costs and competitors in order to guide and inform decisions about strategy, positioning and productivity. They offer information and learning as a way for firms to experience a "coming of age" in the competitive sense.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 11, 1997
Format: Hardcover
It isn't everyday that one gets to read a book about business and have it read as pleasurably as a good novel. Fairbanks and Lindsay have a gift for business analysis and a gift for writing. When will their next book be coming out?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 22, 1997
Format: Hardcover
--James D. Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank says that "At last we have a book which applies the best lessons of what makes companies successful to the changes that developing countries can make to create wealth for their people. Plowing the Sea is rich with stories from the Andean countries, but their applications are universal. This bottom-up perspective accentuates a prerequisite for change: the need for ownership at all levels of society. Michael Fairbanks and Stace Lindsay leave the reader confident and even optimistic that the developing world really can become competitive. We all can learn from their practical advice."

--President Cesar Gaviria, Former President of Colombia, Secretary General, Organization of American States states that--"This rich and absorbing work provides a new approach for the study of development strategies in the Andean countries and the developing world in general. With clear and insightful arguments, Fairbanks and Lindsay urge government and business leaders to adopt a new economic paradigm, in which wealth creation and distribution no longer depend on existing comparative advantages, but on innovative thinking and competitive advantages. Plowing the Sea is necessary reading for those interested in the sustainable development of Latin American countries."

--and finally, Michael E. Porter, Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business Schoolsays that
Fairbanks and Lindsay offer a wealth of valuable insight into the barriers to change in countries and how to overcome them. The book is brimming with rich case studies that will inform both theory and practice for years to come. Most importantly however, the book is based not just on ideas but on results Fairbanks and Lindsay have achieved during projects set in many countries.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 7, 1997
Format: Hardcover
WHAT'S A POOR COUNTRY TO DO?

PLOWING THE SEA
By Michael Fairbanks and Stace Lindsay
Harvard Business School 289pp $29.95

Ask the average economist how a country can lift itself out of poverty, and the answer will be simple: Educate your populace, squelch inflation, open your economy to free trade and investment, and then sit back and watch gross
domestic product soar.

But as still-poor people from Bangkok to Barranquilla can attest, it's not so easy
in practice. In Southeast Asia, Thailand took off like a rocket when it opened its
economy, only to come up against huge trade deficits, a currency devaluation,
and a clampdown by the International Monetary Fund. In Peru, with
unemployment high and economic disparities widening, the inflation-cutting
policies of President Alberto Fujimori are falling into disfavor. In Argentina, which
has also cast its lot with free-market capitalism, frustration mounts: Earlier this
year, 11,000 people vied for 800 jobs at a supermarket outside Buenos Aires.

What's a country to do? Three new books try to answer that question in different
ways. In order of merit, they are Plowing the Sea: Nurturing the Hidden Sources
of Growth in the Developing World by Michael Fairbanks and Stace Lindsay;
Determinants of Economic Growth: A Cross-Country Empirical Study by Robert
J. Barro; and The Marketing of Nations: A Strategic Approach to Building
National Wealth by Philip Kotler, Somkid Jatusripitak, and Suvit Maesincee.

Plowing the Sea is the best of the three because it is the most practical. Its
authors advise developing South American nations for Monitor Co., a Cambridge
(Mass.) consulting firm.
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