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The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths (Anthem Other Canon Economics) [Paperback]

Mariana Mazzucato
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 Jun 2013 Anthem Other Canon Economics (Book 1)

This new bestseller from leading economist Mariana Mazzucato – named by the ‘New Republic’ as one of the ‘most important innovation thinkers’ today – is stirring up much-needed debates worldwide about the role of the State in innovation. Debunking the myth of a laggard State at odds with a dynamic private sector, Mazzucato reveals in case study after case study that in fact the opposite situation is true, with the private sector only finding the courage to invest after the entrepreneurial State has made the high-risk investments. Case studies include examples of the State’s role in the ‘green revolution’, in biotech and pharmaceuticals, as well as several detailed examples from Silicon Valley. In an intensely researched chapter, she reveals that every technology that makes the iPhone so ‘smart’ was government funded: the Internet, GPS, its touch-screen display and the voice-activated Siri. Mazzucato also controversially argues that in the history of modern capitalism the State has not only fixed market failures, but has also shaped and created markets, paving the way for new technologies and sectors that the private sector only ventures into once the initial risk has been assumed. And yet by not admitting the State’s role we are socializing only the risks, while privatizing the rewards in fewer hands. This, she argues, hurts both future innovation and equity in modern-day capitalism. Named one of the ‘2013 Books of the Year’ by the ‘Financial Times’ and recommended by ‘Forbes’ in its 2013 ‘creative leaders’ list, this book is a must-read for those interested in a refreshing and long-awaited take on the public vs. private sector debate.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Anthem Press (10 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857282522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857282521
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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‘Mazzucato argues that long-term, patient government funding is an absolute prerequisite for breakthrough innovation. […] Even if you disagree with Mazzucato’s argument, you should read her book. It will challenge your thinking.’ —Bruce Upbin, ‘Forbes’

‘It is one of the most incisive economic books in years.’ —Jeffery Madrick, ‘New York Review of Books’

‘Makes and engaging, persuasive case in favor of the state, and suggests one recommend it not just as an instrument of market repair but also as a prerequisite for future prosperity.’ —J. Bhattacharya, ‘Choice’

‘“The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths” […] is a meticulously argued treatise that shows how unwise our conventional wisdom has become.’ —Christopher Dickey, ‘Newsweek’

‘In this trailblazing book on the role of government as both a risk-taking funder of innovation and a market creator, Mariana Mazzucato persuasively argues that the government is a key enabler of technological innovations that drive economic growth. […] This important book should be read by policymakers, opinion leaders, and others with a stake in funding economic growth.’ —' Arnold T. Davis, CFA Institute book review

‘[A] meticulously argued treatise that shows how unwise our conventional wisdom has become.’ —Christopher Dickey, ‘Newsweek’

‘Conventional economics offers abstract models; conventional wisdom insists that the answer lies with private entrepreneurship. In this brilliant book, Mariana Mazzucato […] argues that the former is useless and the latter incomplete.’ —Martin Wolf, ‘Financial Times’

‘[P]rovides persuasive evidence that governments deserve more credit than private companies for the development of most important modern technologies.’ —Edward Hadas, ‘Reuters’


‘This is a book whose time has come. Mariana Mazzucato documents how the state played a crucial role behind some of the landmark innovations of our time. For many, the “entrepreneurial state” is a contradiction in terms. For Mazzucato, it is both a reality and a requirement for future prosperity.’ —Dani Rodrik, Rafiq Hariri Professor of International Political Economy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The state as an essential partner in innovation 18 Aug 2013
This well researched book proves that most important innovations are based on financing from government. Apple's iPods, iPhones and iPads are presented as one of the examples. The author describes in detail how the government has financed all essential technological innovations used. The author recognizes the genius of Steve Jobs by visualizing an attractive product that people would buy, selecting technologies, and putting them together in a compact beautiful package.

At first sight this appears the way it should be. The government finances technological breakthroughs that are picked up by business. The problem she sees is financing by the government. Governments are pressured to reduce costs and furthermore are accused to be highly inefficient in everything they do. She describes how for example the governments the US, Germany and Denmark invest heavily and effectively in research and development. They act as entrepreneurs taking the highest risks.

She shows that businesses, in the medical electronic and other fields have radically reduced their funding of the more longer term research and development on which breakthroughs depend. Business and venture capitalists are short term orientated. When "innovative" companies are hugely profitable they buy back shares and/or raise dividends but do not invest it in the longer-term future. She presents a lot of statistics to prove this point.

She considers that it is very important for the people at large to recognize the essential role government plays as the fundamental force in innovation. This role goes beyond developing new knowledge. The state in many cases also has to finance the development of a new technology to the point where it is applied and achieve critical mass.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Mazzucato makes a good argument for the role of the State in funding, stimulating and supporting research, and the benefits that can bring to growth and innovation in an economy. She also carefully differentiates between productive investment and wasted forms of government incentives, but the arguments can seem a bit laborious as she re-uses the same phrases and makes the same points again and again. At times it feels like she is padding out the book and encourages the reader to skips pages, but for all that it does make some very interesting arguments and has made me look at the role of the state in the economy differently.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An overlooked truth 28 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book shows in detail how most of the West's economic success since World War Two has been based on massive state investment in new technologies. Private enterprise mostly takes up things that state spending has pioneered.

Carefully referenced and with many detailed examples.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed argument 12 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a well researched and argued case. Many aspects of our current economic/fiscal troubles become clear in the presentation of the facts. Anyone who is afraid of the "state" should read this book to learn how a partnership can work, and already has in many cases that are not sufficiently recognised. Highly recommended to anyone interested in current problems with capitalism and the cliched responses to our troubles.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mostly nonsense 12 Mar 2014
By SimonJ
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very confused and confusing book. To begin with, contrary to what the blurb on the back of the book says, Mazzucato does not debunk the myth of the State as a bureaucratic organisation, since she only deals with one aspect of government policy namely R&D spend. Moreover as I will come on to argue her arguments are on the whole anything but convincing. However the book is not wholly without merit as will be seen.

The main problems with the book can be grouped into five main areas. Firstly, Mazzucato is a unabashed statist. She states (p.197) that "As anyone who has worked in the private sector knows, there are plenty of 'bureaucratic' and inertial businesses. There is nothing in the DNA of the public sector that makes it less innovative than the private sector." These are two of the most absurd statements I have heard from an economist. It is of course true that some businesses are bureaucratic, inefficient and suffer from poor decision making. However it is exactly these businesses that tend to get undermined by less bureaucratic, more efficient and better managed companies. A number of factors may slow this process down (market concentration, barriers to entry, etc) but occur it does in industry after industry. There are simply too many examples to choose from. So in food retail we had Sainsbury undermined by Tesco (lower prices) who in turn are undermined by Waitrose (better products at a similar price) and the discounters (similar products at an even lower price). In technology Microsoft/IBM's duolopy was gradually eroded by Apple, etc while Apple's dominance in smartphones is now being underminded by Samsung et al.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly counterintuitive 2 Aug 2013
Thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Counter-intuitive take on the role the state can and should play in promoting innovation and enterprise. Nicely written, punchy thinking and great research particularly the case study on Apple.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely informative book on the public sector
Excellent analysis of the role of the state in innovation. Highly recommended to anyone wanting a serious understanding of the role of the private and public sector in modern... Read more
Published 5 months ago by George S
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant on how we need to use the state to rebuild Britain
Mariana Mazzucato is professor of economics at the University of Sussex. In this superb study, she shows how the US state made the key high-risk investments in biotechnology,... Read more
Published 6 months ago by William Podmore
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential Arguments also available in Demos pamphlet
This book started out as a pamphlet from Demos which is still available for free download. It contains the main arguments and some of the case material in the full book. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, clear and useful
The author states hard truths that mainstream economics try to erase from debate. She also backs up her claims with current examples, making her argument even more compelling for... Read more
Published 6 months ago by AKB
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an excellent book; clearly written and argued with case...
It is a book that every politician and aspiring politician should read. Mazzucato makes a very strong case for State intervention in innovation and growth and for how the rewards... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Grazia Ietto-Gillies
5.0 out of 5 stars Let's hear it for the state!
Reading The Economist is one of life's pleasures. Well-written, knowledgeable, and with a certain dash of the unconventional to spice it up, as in the paper's views on the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Steve Keen
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant argument re the value of the state in developing new ideas...
Any doubts on the importance of this argument should be measured against the collapse of research and development in the uk eg graphene and the lack of resources dedicated to... Read more
Published 8 months ago by george elliot
4.0 out of 5 stars A Standing Stone
In a complex but selfish society it is too easy to ignore the role of the state . This book goes a long way to redressing the balance.
Published 9 months ago by Liam Bradley
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor presentation of an appealing view
Could not be reading this book at a more appropriate time. Last week Merck announced they are firing some 7.500 scientists. This week it's Alcatel firing another 5,000. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Athan
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
This book really does debunk the myths about the important role the public sector plays in generating technology and supportiung innovation.
Published 12 months ago by Simon
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