Achieving economic growth is one of today’s key challenges. In this groundbreaking book, Michael Best argues that to understand how successful growth happens we need an economic framework that focuses on production, governance, and skills.
This production-centric framework is the culmination of three simultaneous journeys. The first has been Best’s visits to hundreds of factories worldwide, starting early as the son of a labor organizer and continuing through his work as an academic and industrial consultant. The second is a survey of two-hundred years of economic thought from Babbage to Krugman, with stops along the way for Marx, Marshall, Young, Penrose, Richardson, Schumpeter, Kuznets, Abramovitz, Keynes, and Jacobs. The third is a tour of historical episodes of successful and failed transformations, focusing sharply on three core elements—the production system, business organization, and skill formation—and their interconnections.
Best makes the case that government should create the institutional infrastructures needed to support these elements and their interconnections rather than subsidize individual enterprises. The power of Best’s alternative framework is illustrated by case studies of transformative experiences previously regarded as economic “miracles”: America’s World War II industrial buildup, Germany’s postwar recovery, Greater Boston’s innovation system, Ireland’s tech-sector boom, and the rise of the Asian Tigers and China.
Accessible and engaging, How Growth Really Happens is required reading for anyone who wants to advance today’s crucial debates about industrial policy, free trade, outsourcing, and the future of work.
Awards and Recognition
- Winner of the 2018 Schumpeter Prize Competition, International Joseph A. Schumpeter Society