- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 16, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199251053
- ISBN-13: 978-0199251056
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.9 x 6.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,552,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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As Time Goes By: From the Industrial Revolutions to the Information Revolution
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`Review from previous edition This major contribution to economic history is the most impressive and convincing attempt I know to apply the concept of the 'long waves', a basic rhythm of historical development in the era of capitalism, to the entire stretch from eighteenth-century Lancashire
to twenty-first-century Silicon Valley. It is also a call for economic history to escape from the handcuffs of narrow retrospective econometrics to the freedom of its vocation: understanding and explaining secular historical transformations.'
Eric Hobsbawm FBA, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Emeritus Professor of Social and Economic History, Birkbeck College; Author of The Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century 1914-1991
`. . . a true story has to make sense, to be plausible and persuasive. Cleverness is less useful than sense and sensibility. The inability to see this, to avoid showing off, has been the death of more than one pyrotechnic schema. This book is testimony to knowledge and good sense. Such virtues
are rare and that much more valuable.'
David Landes, Professor of History and Economics, Harvard University, Emeritus; Author of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations
`This book is a thought-provoking work that is valuable for more than its detailed account of the technological revolutions that shape our economy today. By directing our attention to a perspective outside the current wave, it shapes our thinking about events inside the current wave.'
Academy of Management Review, 27(2)
About the Author
Chris Freeman is Emeritus Professor at SPRU, University of Sussex. After studying at the London School of Economics, he later took up the position of Research Fellow at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, London (1959-66) before becoming Director of the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Susex (1966-81). His most recent position was Visiting Professor at the University of Limburg in Maastricht (1986-96). He is the author of numerous books including 'The Economics of Industrial Innovation' (with L. Soete, Pinter, 1997); 'Work for All or Mass Unemployment: Computerised Technical Change into the 21st Century' (with L. Soete, Pinter, 1994); and 'Technology and Economic Performance: Lessons from Japan' (Pinter, 1987). Francisco Louçã is Professor of Economics in the Faculty of Economics and Management at the ISEG, Lisbon. He obtained his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Lisbon under the supervision of Chris Freeman, subsequently publishing his thesis in both English and Portuguese ('Turbulence in Economics', Edward Elgar 1997). In 1999 he was elected Member of Parliament in Portugal, and serves in the Economic and Budgetary Commission.
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Top customer reviews
They are, self-admittedly, heavily focused on the effects of technological change, but they also regularly examine social and governance change in their pursuit for a complete picture. If you're interested in unraveling the complexity of human society, this is a book for you.
The first part of the book covering the economic background of cycle research and other topics is written to the PhD economist; however, the balance of the book does a good job of presenting the history of technology as it relates to the economy. The Kondratieff cycles are discussed in terms of techlologies: Canals, steam engines, railways, iron and steel, electrification, automoiles and petroleum, plastics and computers, etc., with various tables of economic statistics illustrating impacts of these technologies.
The book is well researched with very good referencing.
Part 1 is fairly polemical in nature. A good deal of this portion is devoted to the inability of conventional equilibrium economics, econometric analysis, and economic history to account for broad changes in economic history. This critique is accompanied by discussion of prior thinkers, including individuals like Schumpeter and Kondratiev, who attempted to account for longer term trends. The critique of conventional economics and economic history is probably the best part of this section. Some of this part has the flavor of attempting to develop some intellectual legitimacy for the authors' position by citing a set of distinguished intellectual ancestors. If your primary interest is economic history, skip this part.
Part 2 is a really interesting combination of economic and technological history. Drawing on their own prior work and the work of other scholars, notably Carlota Perez, they present a relatively stereotyped model of serial technological and economic change that at least contributes to long term fluctuations in the world economy. The development and spread of new technologies is the driver of economic growth on longer time scales. A key set of technological innovations provoke considerable economic growth, often transforming multiple sectors of the economy. Over time, and with the exhaustion of technological innovations and spread of technology, profit rates start to fall with considerable social stress. A new set of technological innovations then follows repeating the process. Considerable social turmoil can accompany all phases of these process as the new technological provoke new social and economic problems and opportunties. Similarly, the relative stagnation that accompanies technological maturation can also provoke problems. The authors are careful not to present their model as one of economic determinism. They are careful to describe interaction with a variety of other forces in determining events. Neither are the arguing for regular sinusoidal oscillation; the wave idea is a loose metaphor.
The authors describe 5 such major waves; the original industrial revolution in Britain, a second industrial revolution based on steam, steel, and railroads, a third industrial revolution in the second half of 19th century due to the emergence of electrical and chemical industries, a fourth associated with automobiles and petroleum products in the 20th century, and the electronics-computer innovations of our present period. There are concise summaries of each of these "waves" and good discussions of how they interacted with other aspects of economic history. The basic model and general reconstructions are interesting and generally convincing. As a qualitative analysis, which is the authors' primary goal, this is a convincing analysis. In specific cases, the authors may overstate the impact of their model. Its strongly implied, for example, that the Great Depression was a manifestation of their technological cycle.
This analysis has some interesting policy implications. Given that technological innovation is the motor of economic growth, and that there are bursts of major innovation and growth, some interesting conclusions follow. To maintain a relatively high rate of sustained economic growth, nations should invest heavily in research, technological innovation, and technology adaptation. This in turn requires a well educated work force and probably some role for the state in the initial implementation of novel technologies. Given that this process is likely to involve considerable turbulence (creative destruction is Schumpeter's famous phrase), a significant investment in social welfare is likely to be necessary to maintain social peace and a political system that can adjust regulatory regimes required by major technological shifts.