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Boulevard of Broken Dreams:
Why Public Efforts to Boost Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Have Failed--and What to Do About It
Josh Lerner

Winner of the 2009 PROSE Award in Business, Finance & Management, Association of American Publishers
Co-Winner of the 2010 Gold Medal Book Award in Entrepreneurship, Axiom Business

Paperback | 2012 | $18.95 | £14.95 | ISBN: 9780691154534
240 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 2 halftones. 9 line illus. 4 tables.
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Silicon Valley, Singapore, Tel Aviv--the global hubs of entrepreneurial activity--all bear the marks of government investment. Yet, for every public intervention that spurs entrepreneurial activity, there are many failed efforts that waste untold billions in taxpayer dollars. When has governmental sponsorship succeeded in boosting growth, and when has it fallen terribly short? Should the government be involved in such undertakings at all? Boulevard of Broken Dreams is the first extensive look at the ways governments have supported entrepreneurs and venture capitalists across decades and continents. Josh Lerner, one of the foremost experts in the field, provides valuable insights into why some public initiatives work while others are hobbled by pitfalls, and he offers suggestions for how public ventures should be implemented in the future.

Discussing the complex history of Silicon Valley and other pioneering centers of venture capital, Lerner uncovers the extent of government influence in prompting growth. He examines the public strategies used to advance new ventures, points to the challenges of these endeavors, and reveals the common flaws undermining far too many programs--poor design, a lack of understanding for the entrepreneurial process, and implementation problems. Lerner explains why governments cannot dictate how venture markets evolve, and why they must balance their positions as catalysts with an awareness of their limited ability to stimulate the entrepreneurial sector.

As governments worldwide seek to spur economic growth in ever more aggressive ways, Boulevard of Broken Dreams offers an important caution. The book argues for a careful approach to government support of entrepreneurial activities, so that the mistakes of earlier efforts are not repeated.


"[S]uperb."--Edward L. Glaeser, New York Times' Economix blog

"Lots of governments would like to promote high-tech entrepreneurship and venture capital in their regions--but many don't know how to do it effectively. In his new book Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Josh Lerner . . . examines which types of policies to promote entrepreneurship and venture capital tend to work--and which don't. Lerner supports his carefully researched analysis with numerous examples chosen from around the globe."--MIT Sloan Management Review

"Can governments spark start-up activity and job creation by getting into the venture capital business? Or do they just waste taxpayer money whenever they try? Those are the two questions that animate the new book from Harvard Business prof Josh Lerner, Boulevard of Broken Dreams. . . . [W]hile the stories of failures are entertaining, what's most useful about Boulevard are the examples of governments that have gotten it right. . . . [A] really readable collection of data, anecdotes, and thoughtful arguments."--Scott Kirsner, Boston Globe blog "Innovation Economy"

"Today, calls for more innovation and entrepreneurship are more fashionable than ever, especially within government, where politicians and bureaucrats wastefully attempt to manufacture, via policy and subsidies, fresh batches of master agents and adventurers. But can government policy trigger entrepreneurship and subsequent growth? The title of a new book suggests not, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, by Harvard professor Josh Lerner. Much of Broken Dreams is a first-rate handbook for policy makers keen to avoid interventions that have proven track records as disasters. Lerner produces example after example of bad program design, bad implementation and plain dumb, even corrupt, policy making."--Terence Corcoran, National Post

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Table of Contents:

Preface and Acknowledgments vii
CHAPTER ONE: Introduction 1
CHAPTER TWO: A Look Backwards 25
CHAPTER THREE: Why Should Policymakers Care? 43
CHAPTER FOUR: Things Get More Complicated 65
CHAPTER FIVE: The Neglected Art of Setting the Table 89
CHAPTER SIX: How Governments Go Wrong: Bad Designs 111
CHAPTER SEVEN: How Governments Go Wrong: Bad Implementation 137
CHAPTER EIGHT: The Special Challenges of Sovereign Funds 162
CHAPTER NINE: Lessons and Pitfalls 181
Notes 193
Index 219

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