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The Economist Starts a Column Named "Schumpeter"



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Source of Schumpeter stairway to innovation graphic (my name for it): http://media.economist.com/images/20090919/D3809WB0.jpg


Thanks to Shane Eloe for alerting me that in their Sept. 19th issue, The Economist started a column named "Schumpeter." Here are a couple of paragraphs from their first installment:


(p. 78) Joseph Schumpeter was one of the few intellectuals who saw business straight. He regarded business people as unsung heroes: men and women who create new enterprises through the sheer force of their wills and imaginations, and, in so doing, are responsible for the most benign development in human history, the spread of mass affluence. "Queen Elizabeth [I] owned silk stockings," he once observed. "The capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within the reach of factory girls in return for steadily decreasing amounts of effort...The capitalist process, not by coincidence but by virtue of its mechanism, progressively raises the standard of life of the masses." But Schumpeter knew far too much about the history of business to be a cheerleader. He recognised that business people are often ruthless monomaniacs, obsessed by their dreams of building "private kingdoms" and willing to do anything to crush their rivals.

Schumpeter's ability to see business straight would be reason enough to name our new business column after him. But this ability rested on a broader philosophy of capitalism. He argued that innovation is at the heart of economic progress. It gives new businesses a chance to replace old ones, but it also dooms those new businesses to fail unless they can keep on innovating (or find a powerful government patron). In his most famous phrase he likened capitalism to a "perennial gale of creative destruction".




For the full commentary, see:

"Schumpeter; Taking flight; This week we launch a new column on business and management. Why call it Schumpeter?" The Economist (Sat., Sept. 19, 2009): 78.

(Note: the online version was dated Thurs., Sept. 17th)

(Note: ellipsis in original.)





Comments

I follow your blog. Thanks for drawing this to my attention. It is ironic that those who are Schumpeter fans get labeled as conservatives when the core of his thinking centers on ongoing destruction of present institutions.

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