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The Venturesome Economy: How Innovation Sustains Prosperity in a More Connected World (The Kauffman Foundation Series on Innovation and Entrepreneurship)

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691145938
ISBN-10: 0691145938
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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 2009 Silver Medal Book Award in International Business/Globalization, Jenkins Group, Inc., Axiom Business

Winner of the 2008 PROSE Award in Business, Finance, and Management, Association of American Publishers

One of Economist's Best Books for 2008

One of BusinessWeek's Best Innovation and Design Books for 2008

"Bhidé makes a detailed argument that contradicts the prevailing view of expert panels and authors who contend that the nation's prosperity is threatened by the technological rise of China and India, and that America's capacity for innovation is eroding. . . . Mr. Bhidé derides the conventional view in science and technology circles as 'techno-nationalism,' needlessly alarmist and based on a widely held misunderstanding of how technological innovation yields economic growth. In his view, many analysts put too much emphasis on the production of new technological ideas. Instead, he observes, the real economic payoff lies in innovations in how technologies are used."--Steve Lohr, New York Times

"Offers a perspective on American innovation and prosperity that is remarkably optimistic, given the temper of the times. Among his data-driven findings: American consumers have long shown an 'exceptional willingness' to buy, for instance, technology products before their utility is clear. Such 'venturesome consumers' help spur companies and entrepreneurs to take the risks that lead to innovation."--Rob Walker, New York Times

"The Venturesome Economy is a refreshing riposte to the doomsayers of recession and the bleak prognostications of the technonationalists. It is a compelling book and will have a wide audience; many will be interested in the numerous case studies, particularly of IT and biotech firms. The emphasis on relationships, connections and networks resonates well with modern literature on social capital and economic psychology."--Michelle Baddeley, Times Higher Education

"Bhidé points out that without our free-spending, possibly foolhardy yet certainly optimistic habits of consumption, Americans would not have moved the market to devise such culture-altering goods as personal computers, the iPod and, in an earlier and much tougher economic period, even mass-produced shoes."--Guy Trebay, New York Times

"In The Venturesome Economy, Bhidé provides a thorough discussion of the relationship between venture-backed business and globalization. Asserting the global influence of the United States, he explores the complex synthesis of innovation in an increasingly open international market. He also emphasizes the importance of embracing the ever-changing market and not fearing the false alarms and paranoia that strike an unpredictable economy."--Ming-Wei Wang, Nature

"Arguments for protectionism are based on fears that are wholly at odds with the evidence. The experience of recent years does not support the idea that millions of jobs will be outsourced to cheap foreign locations. . . . [Amar Bhidé argues] it is in the application of innovations to meet the needs of consumers that most economic value is created, so what matters is not so much where the innovation happens but where the 'venturesome consumers' are to be found. America's consumers show no signs of becoming less venturesome, and its government remains committed to the idea that the customer is king."--Matthew Bishop, The Economist

"Meticulously researched, clearly written and based on interviews with chief executive officers, the book offers a ground-breaking and counter-intuitive view of innovation and globalization."--Diana Furchtgott-Roth, New York Post

"Innovation everywhere is a boon to America. That's the argument from [Bhidé] who sees hidden value in America's unique ability to integrate and consume big new ideas, no matter where they're spawned."--Kirk Shinkle, U.S. News & World Report

"A rigorously researched and original analysis that challenges much received wisdom about the process of innovation, particularly in the US. . . . In his analysis of innovation, Bhidé distinguishes between cutting-edge scientific discoveries and ideas--what he calls 'high-level' know-how--and the kind of know-how needed to turn these ideas into innovative products and services to meet the needs of specific markets ('mid- and ground-level innovation'). He says not enough attention has been paid to this mid- and ground-level activity, in particular to the commercial and organisational effort needed to turn scientific breakthroughs into useful products, or to how well America does it."--Fergal Byrne, Financial Times

"A counterintuitive view of technology and globalisation that will delight those who believe that American innovation is insulated from economic ups and downs."--The Economist (Best Books of 2008)

"Brilliant."--Reihan Salam, Forbes.com

"Bhidé's book is a welcome addition to the debate over how we sustain economic prosperity in a global, interconnected world."--R.B. Emmett, Choice

"[Bhidé] provides a provocative, counterintuitive case as to why the U.S. should support the training of foreign workers and research activities by foreign companies. Why? American companies can benefit, he says--pointing out, for example, that many of the acclaimed features on the iPod were actually developed abroad."--Business Week (Best Innovation & Design Books of 2008)

"Annihilatingly good since it is so much at odds with the current, brows-knitted, anxious attitude toward the economic future. . . . Bhide is the undiscovered Malcolm Gladwell."--Amity Shlaes, Politico

"Bhidé busts some common misconceptions of innovation: Fewer PhDs do not necessarily mean less innovation. Subsequent applications, rather than an initial invention, spur prosperity and radical social change. Increased proportions of college graduates in a society may not necessarily herald economic benefits. And enthusiastic immigrants--not just high-level researchers--can increase employment opportunities and wages for domestic science and engineering workers. . . . The message threaded throughout this book--anyone can innovate--is inspiring and needed during a time of economic downturn."--Susan Froetschel, YaleGlobal Online

"[Bhidé's] core message is that you need innovative consumers. This, rather than the cutting-edge stuff in the university labs or the research departments of the multinationals, is what gives America its edge."--Hamish McRae, The Independent

"With a felicitous writing style, Bhidé addresses the antiforeign bias . . . and explains why innovation can sustain prosperity in the U.S., regardless of whether it emanates from within our borders or from Europe, Asia, or anywhere else. Read the chapter on 'Alarmist Arguments', in which he politely, but devastatingly, refutes the 'techno-nationalists'--many of them distinguished economists--who'd have us believe American prosperity depends on maintaining a lead 'on all fronts' in technical research."--Gene Epstein, Barron's Magazine

"Is the world really flat? That's the question posed by Amar Bhidé in his new book, The Venturesome Economy. Disputing Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, Bhidé concludes that: (1) it isn't, and (2) arguments by Friedman and others--whom he labels as 'technonationalists'--fail to recognize how innovation that matters really occurs and aren't always helpful to long-term global or even U.S. development. . . . Bhidé concludes that the edge in economic development from the 'innovation game' comes from the kind of entrepreneurial behavior that adapts and combines high-level ideas and know-how, adjusts them to the needs of particular markets, and actually sells them to willing buyers."--James Heskett, Working Knowledge

"This is a fine book, a book for thinking with, providing rich detail and a carefully constructed argument about a big idea."--Jock Given, Prometheus

From the Back Cover

"If I were asked to recommend to the next president just one book on the trajectory of the U.S. economy in the next several years, it would unhesitatingly be Amar Bhidé's The Venturesome Economy. The book is an utterly original interpretation of the nature of the complex process of innovation. Among other things, it makes a mockery of the simplistic, alarmist writings that have become so popular in these troublesome economic times. As a student myself of the lovely, kinky history of real innovation, I almost found myself audibly cheering as I raced through this seminal text."--Thomas J. Peters, coauthor of In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies

"Amar Bhidé provides a fresh and reassuring perspective on America's technological position in an increasingly global economy. Anyone interested in our economic future and especially our technology policies should read this book."--Lawrence Summers, Harvard University

"The strides made by China and India, notably their unexpected technological advances, have made America anxious, prompting calls to double federal spending on basic research. In The Venturesome Economy, Amar Bhidé draws on his unmatched knowledge of the mechanisms of innovation to show the benefits to us of Asia's advances and the errors in the techno-fetishism that grips Washington officialdom. This book deepens radically our understanding of how the global economy functions."--Edmund Phelps, 2006 Nobel Laureate in Economics

"In The Venturesome Economy, Amar Bhidé takes on the increasingly noisy chorus of critics worried about the effects of globalization on the national economy. He demonstrates that the application and commercialization of technology is far more important than whether the underlying science originated at home or abroad. The winners will be those countries and businesses that have the insight and energy to apply innovations effectively. This is an optimistic and important message."--Donald J. Gogel, president and CEO of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice

"A book full of solid if unconventional deductions, all based on extensive observations. Amar Bhidé is an author who knows whereof he speaks and to whom one should listen."--William J. Baumol, author of The Free-Market Innovation Machine


Product Details

  • Series: The Kauffman Foundation Series on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Paperback: 520 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (January 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691145938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691145938
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,327,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Amar Bhidé, Schmidheiny Professor at the Fletcher School, has served as Glaubinger Professor of Business at Columbia University, a consultant at McKinsey & Company and a proprietary trader at E.F. Hutton. Bhidé is a founding member of the Center on Capitalism and Society, editor of Capitalism and Society, and has written about the financial crisis in the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Forbes.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The book is a thoroughly researched, eloquently argued and highly persuasive piece. It's central thesis is that technological innovation is a complex, multiplayer game in which America still leads the world by a long way. American scientific, technological and economic pre-eminence are thus not going away anytime soon. The book goes on to argue that "neo-protectionist" fears are unwarranted, and shows how they will probably undermine America's economic might in the long run.

The book comes with impeccable credentials. It is authored by Amar Bhide, the Lawrence D. Glaubinger Professor of Business at Columbia University. Prof Bhide is also a co-researcher of Edmund Phelps, 2006 Nobel Laureate in Economics who is an authority on, among other things, the relationship between investment in education and research on the one hand, and economic growth on the other.

And Prof Bhide could hardly have chosen a better time to weigh in, as anti-offshoring rhetoric can be expected to rise over the next few months. It must be noted that the primary purport of the book is not to support outsourcing or offshoring,and I am sure nothing could be farther from the author's mind than to be painted as a torchbearer for the outsourcing brigade. Nonetheless, the arguments presented therein can be read as making a substantial case for a more liberal approach toward outsourcing.

The author marshals an astonishing array of evidence in supporting his thesis, stitching together data and information from diverse disciplines. He presents data to show that protectionist fears in the 1980s that the US would soon be overtaken by Germany and Japan, which focused on rigorous planning of their scientific manpower, proved baseless as the US prospered while the ostensible aggressors largely floundered.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book as I had come across the author's views that that, in addition to innovative inputs , entrepreurial firms require venturesome and resourceful customers who are willing to take a chance on their products and services. Too often I think innovation is viewed as the result of back room boffins planning and researching, whereas in fact the real world of trial, error and customers who are willing to adapt and suppliers who are willing to change is more real. There is a wonderful Dilbert cartoon where Dilbert proudly shows Dogbert the world's first video phone. Dilbert is ecstatic at his purchase, placing it on his desk saying `and all we have to do now is wait for someone else to buy one and we can talk'. Dogbert ruefully notes that societies material progress relies on people like Dilbert.
Amar Bhidé's an Indian-born, professor of Business at Columbia elegantly begins his discussion of innovation as follows "Just as a devout Hindu might begin a journey with a prayer to the Lord Ganesh, it is obligatory to start a discussion on modern innovation by invoking Joseph Schumpeter" Having nodded towards the master, he then proceeds to deconstruct, if not actually slaughter, the sacred cow that is the Schumpeterian model of innovation. This for me is a major strength of the book,it has become fashionable to take creative destruction - the utter replacement of one technology by another, as the basis for the cycles of prosperity and innovation. Yet the reality is somewhat different - in the 1930's typewriters were predicted to eliminate the need to write by hand, yet in 1990 sixteen billion pencils were sold; and
In most markets, a large majority of people will possess both a landline and a mobile phone, despite the potential of the mobile to replace the landline.
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Format: Hardcover
I found Bhide's new book excellent on a number of levels. He makes quite convincing overall cases for his leading theses: first, that 'venturesome' actors throughout the US economy --including especially businesses as customers willing to try out new technologies offered them-- have been the key to the US distinctive productivity performance and second, the related and surprising proposition that fundamental research --so long as it gets done somewhere--has not been and won't be the driver of relative growth performance for the US in the future.

Bhide does a good job with the supporting lines of his inquiry. He provides a first-rate description of the whys and hows of venture capital-supported enterprises. He also carries the argument that many, even large-scale investments in new processes and techniques in the services sector and elsewhere that have turned out to be fundamentally important to productivity advances were done, not with a fine economic calculus of costs and benefits, but rather in an entrepreneurial, venturesome spirit in the face of 'Knightian,' unquantifiable uncertainty.

I found the book rich with nuanced and illuminating business examples taken from his research for the book. Nice to have a bold set of propositions built from a real-world, fact- based approach.
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Format: Hardcover
I read Bhides' book and later saw a few reviews--some arguing against his positions. One in partucular caught my eye in which the reviewer said that The Venturesome Economy understated the importance of fundmaental research. The writer gave Google as an example of a great company derived from, in essence, an algorithmic research project funded by the Feds.
But Google is an almost perfect example of Bhide's essential point. As search technology Google is thought to be good-not-great and many others are pursuing subtler and more advanced methods. The company's genius lay in its ability to position search itself as the logical gateway into the web and then in creating a quick and easy way to get paid for the traffic that flooded its site. It is much more a marketing success story than anything else and highly supportive of a theme that runs through this book: Americans, both as sellers and buyers, are very willing to accept and tinker with something new and imperfect. They are unusually willing to accept limitations if they figure that they get more than they lose by adoption. And good companies are very aware of their customers tinkering and experimenting with new offerings. It contributes to their evolution.
In some ways Bhide is describing an economy of constant-work-in-progress so far as innovation is concerned. Capital flows towards solutions favored by a giant set of tinkerers in the marketplace and you do well when you take advantage of the adaptive qulaity of the marketplace.
This is not a book that argues against basic research. It's simply skeptical about the predictable payoffs from such research.
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