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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Israel - a Crucible of Innovation
In recent years the Israeli economy has topped world metrics in the number of business start-ups and value of venture capital investment per head of population. It also has the highest civilian R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP. This is extraordinary for a country the size of Wales which is only 60 or so years old, has negligible natural resources and has survived...
Published on 30 Dec 2009 by Jonathan Karmi

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An army and a threat to your nation the answer?
I agree with the more sceptical reviewers. I find this very interesting reading (I actually listened to it). However... Being an economist I always becomes a little scared when the answer to progress is to learn more from the military. It is no coincidence that the most successful Israelis are also good soldiers. They almost all go to the army in Israel. And Israel has...
Published on 20 July 2012 by mats


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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Israel - a Crucible of Innovation, 30 Dec 2009
By 
Jonathan Karmi (Bedfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
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In recent years the Israeli economy has topped world metrics in the number of business start-ups and value of venture capital investment per head of population. It also has the highest civilian R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP. This is extraordinary for a country the size of Wales which is only 60 or so years old, has negligible natural resources and has survived wars, terror attacks and incessant political hostility.

`Start-Up Nation' tries to explain the combination of factors and circumstances that have created this unusually strong start-up culture. The title is a play on the words "Upstart Nation". Israelis are no great respecters of status and hierarchy and they prefer to deal with problems and ideas on their merits, even if egos get bruised as a result. They are happy to question conventions and assumptions. A potent mix of natural self-confidence, technological expertise and innovative thinking has served to underpin the calculated risk-taking of hi-tech entrepreneurship.

Thirteen chapters each cover a major contributory factor. Here are a few that I found particularly noteworthy ...

Compulsory military service is cited as having a major formative effect on the `Israeli mentality'. At a young age, many Israelis have to surmount physical and psychological hardship and learn the importance of teamwork and loyalty to unit and comrades. Officers are given serious responsibility at a younger age than in Western armies. Military service also creates valuable social networks, which are preserved and strengthened through annual reserve-duty. Two units in particular, 8200 and Talpiot, are given mention as they produce a high number of eventual start-up pioneers due to the intensive analytical and technological training that recruits undergo.

The Israeli army and Israeli society are characterised by informality and egalitarianism, which have roots in the kibbutzim and the socialist ideology of the pre-State Yishuv and the Labour party which was dominant during Israel's first three decades. The use of nicknames is common, even when referring to senior officers or senior politicians. It's even acceptable for soldiers in combat units to question the decisions of officers if they believe them genuinely to be wrong, as long as that doesn't become overt refusal of orders.

A recurring theme is `necessity as the mother of invention'. Israel has very modest natural resources, just Dead Sea potash and magnesium and some recently-discovered offshore gas. Above all, water is in short supply and Israelis have had to be ingenious to make optimum use. Netafim, the kibbutz-based drip irrigation company, is an example of where an innovation has generated a world-leading company with export markets across the globe.

Israel has survived major wars in 1948, 1967 and 1973 that were either launched or provoked by its neighbours. Prior to 1967, Israel was heavily reliant on France for supply of armaments and aircraft, but de Gaulle's sudden embargo forced Israel to plan its own military industries. This eventually led to production of the Kfir fighter-bomber, the Merkava tank, unmanned aerial vehicles and many other innovative defence systems.

Israeli industries have also had to survive the severe disruption caused by wars. In the first Gulf War in early 1991, Saddam Hussein was peppering the metropolitan areas of Tel-Aviv and Haifa with Scud missiles and Israelis spent long hours in shelters and `sealed rooms' wearing gas masks for fear of chemical attack. In contravention of government directives, but on a voluntary basis, Intel Israel led by Dov Frohman kept its research and chip production facilities going throughout the war. Intel Israel managed to meet all its schedules and thereby showed both the parent company and the wider business world that Israeli subsidiaries could be relied on, even in the most difficult circumstances.

Israel's economy still faces serious threats and challenges such as the Iranian nuclear weapons programme and internal demographics. Only a narrow segment of Israel's 7 million population carries the hi-tech sector on its shoulders. The Haredi population is growing rapidly and owing to its narrow educational focus on religion, it contributes little to the economy. Likewise Israel's Arab minority has lower educational standards and hardly any involvement in this sector. These problems need to be addressed somehow through new initiatives and investment.

`Start-Up Nation' book is a highly stimulating read for anyone interested in the subjects of Israel, business innovation and corporate culture. Despite Israel's many problems, this is a major success story that's well worth telling.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Master Piece, 14 Dec 2009
By 
Philemon O. Adjekuko (Abuja, Nigeria) - See all my reviews
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Start-Up Nation is a master piece. I read it from cover to cover within 24hrs of receiving it from Amazon. There is so much developing countries in Africa can learn from that book. The book also inspires with its message of "dare the impossible". Israel is a glowing example of how any country that is willing can overcome nature's short comings. Countries with so much resource, like my country Nigeria, have no excuse for failing to develop. I congratulate Dan Senor and Saul Singer for telling such a wonderful story in a breezy and enjoyable style. I extend my gratitude to Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN Global Public Square for recommending the book to viewers around the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An army and a threat to your nation the answer?, 20 July 2012
By 
mats (Strangnas, Sweden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle (Paperback)
I agree with the more sceptical reviewers. I find this very interesting reading (I actually listened to it). However... Being an economist I always becomes a little scared when the answer to progress is to learn more from the military. It is no coincidence that the most successful Israelis are also good soldiers. They almost all go to the army in Israel. And Israel has one of the world's best armies. But is that how wealth MUST be acquired? By having a technically advanced army? The argument is more an exercise in correlations than actually looking for a logically plausible story. Without the innovativeness there wouldn't have been an Israeli state. Or would there? I would claim that persistence and innovation came before the army

The author's main argument is akin to the Keynesian economists that claim that the US was economically "saved" by the second world war, that Louisianas' "GDP will increase by the Katrina catastrophe, etc. An army is a rather destructive way of building wealth. And the authors really miss the opportunity of asking themselves "what if Israel could have spent all this entrepreneurial energy on building wealth"?

Again, I did not suffer through the reading. It was worth my time and I learned a lot about Israel's military history :). I hope I make the authors' book justice since is it is well worth reading. Thus, a caveat may be that I have missed some very good points in my overall irritation of the connection between the army and success

Mats from Sweden
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars book review, 20 Feb 2014
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Excellent book and quite an inspiration that most people and modern nations can take note of. A must read for all
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the spirit of innovation and creativity, 17 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle (Paperback)
This book explains how Israel is embodied by the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.
It is not as I feared it might be a dry text book but a very engrossing book on the Israeli spirit-the same spirit which turned swamps and desert wastelands many decades ago into thriving and fertile land- and how this has kept Israel as a leader in the technological, business and medical field.
A large part of the reason is the Israeli attitude of chutzpah , a Hebrew word borrowed from Yiddish which means gall, effrontery, bravery, nerve, incredible guts plus a dose of arrogance.
As the authors explain 'An outside would see chutzpah everywhere in Israel: In the way university students speak with their professors, employees challenge their bosses, sergeants question their generals, and clerks second guess government ministers. To Israelis however this isn't chutzpah, its the normal mode of being."

The Israeli learns survival, toughness and perseverance in the army, which all Israelis must serve in from ages 18 to 20, and where they make lifelong networks of friends and professional/business colleagues. what is unique about the Israeli army is the bottom up approach. the tactical innovation comes from the bottom up, from individual tank commanders and their officers.
This approach has morphed into Israeli professional, business, scientific and academic life.

Part of the reason for Israeli innovation and self-reliance has been the isolation and need to survive in a neighborhood of enemies that want every Israeli Jew dead down to the last child. As the authors explain "Long before there was a State of Israel there was already isolation. An early economic boycott can be traced to 1891 when local Arabs asked Palestine's Ottoman rulers to block Jewish immigration and land sales. In 1922 the fifth Arab Palestine congress called for a boycott of all Jewish businesses'

Since the country finding Israelis have always been aware that the future is always in question. Every moment and decision is of vital significance.
In 1967 the about turn of France from ally to adversary and the French embargo forced Israel to develop its own weapons and armaments industry.
But one of the greatest Israeli innovations comes from the medical and scientific side, from the most advanced water sanitation techonology to new ways to fight cancer and get molecules through the skin without injections
Of course there are challenges. As well as business innovation, Israel has badly neglected the public relations industry (hasbara)-hence when Jon Medved was told in 1982 that Israel does not need 'professional Zionists ' but business leaders, they were not altogether correct. Because the one field that Israel's enemies have outstripped her has been that the anti-Israel lobby has the greatest and most effective propaganda machine in history while Israel has not effectively put the truth across.
Imagine what Israel could do for the world without having to fight for survival all the lunatics who want her destroyed .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Start-Up Nation - a must for anyone involved with entrepreneurs, 27 Aug 2012
By 
Alan Watts (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle (Paperback)
Too many people had told me I must read this book, so I did and it was well worth it. I run a business angel network and this book gave me a real understanding of some success factors I'd hardly considered.

My jaw dropped at some of the stuff in here. This book is frankly a must-read for anyone involved in the entrepreneurial community. And I'd love to see policy 'experts' in government reading it and learning.

If you want to understand how success was achieved in technical innovation leading to economic growth then read the book. More importantly, if you want to see what the rest of us are not doing to achieve this - read the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Window to the Israel Business World, 11 Feb 2012
A lot of the info presented is old info for those "in the know" but presented in a refreshing way with a lot of facts for the uninitiated. How many know that Intel became the PC chip leader thru its Israeli operations? How many know ISCAR is one of the worlds leading carbide tool manufactures? Easy reading---Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story of how Israel has turned ingenuity into economic advantage, 25 Jun 2014
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This is a well researched book that provides an excellent insight into how a small nation with an open door policy to Jewish immigrants from anywhere in the world could produce so many technologically brilliant products and services. Many of these have formed the foundation for start-up businesses that have gone on to become quoted companies or key subsidiaries of large US companies.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Relentless., 2 May 2012
By 
Hugh Claffey (Co. Kildare Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle (Paperback)
Israel is super-competitive because Israeli's are intensely inquisitive, constantly challenge authority and accepted wisdom and remain under imminent threat of annihilation. This is what I take away from this book. There are good examples of innovative companies, mainly in the High Technology, who provide the backbone of innovation in the country. And innovation is the reason I read the book, it's the current magic ingredient which will bring economic growth, which will solve all our problems; so surely the lessons we can learn from the innovative Israeli's will be valuable.
Some lessons were unsurprising - constant experimentation, re-evaluation of results, direct criticism; some were surprising - a significant industrial policy was seen as a good thing, though not fiscal indiscipline. There is some mention of the immigration, however I thought the impact of demographics was insufficiently explored. Imagine your population being expanded by nearly 20%, and that a significant proportion of these people were well educated , though impoverished.
Overall I thought the book was readable, though not very useful. I think waves of immigration have been a spur to economic development throughout history, I don't buy the ` threat of annihilation as the mother of invention' theme, I do agree that Israeli's in general are argumentative, critical and sometimes irreverent; though they are also disciplined and persistent. I though the book was journalistic in the sense of telling stories to illustrate points is useful, but if analysis points to areas where stories are hard to tell, then the book falls down. At the end I thought it told the same story again and again, relentlessly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book, great insight, 5 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle (Paperback)
I recently started to work for an Israelie company and I was trying to understand more of the culture. A colleague recommended this book. It has such great insight on the country and the people and I couldn't put it down because of the facinating contents and the brilliant writing. It helps me greatly when I interact with my colleagues and operate within the company culture...I can see many merits in the culture while if I haven't read the book I may not have appreciated why it is that way.
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Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle
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