SOCIAL SCIENCES

Innovation for the Masses: How To Share the Benefits of the High-Tech Economy

Univ. of California Jan. 2024. 248p. ISBN 9780520394889. $26.95. ECON
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This book explores the relationship between innovation, economic development, and equality. In a departure from the usual discourse, which is often about creating more high-tech nations, Lee (economic geography, London Sch. of Economics) looks at how to harness innovation, especially in the tech sector, to improve the lives of a broad swath of society. Opening chapters define innovation; set out its risks, opportunities, and impact on standards of living (very high-tech cities, like San Francisco, often contain extreme economic inequality); and argue that workers, not just their bosses, should benefit from innovation. The bulk of the book is dedicated to a comparative analysis of the approaches of four countries: Switzerland’s blend of radical and incremental innovation and emphasis on long-cycle industries; Austria’s success in low-tech industries and strong social partnerships; Taiwan’s balance of growth in skills and small to medium enterprises; and Sweden’s model, which shows that a strong welfare state need not inhibit competition within industries.
VERDICT Effectively shows the importance of innovation in modern economies while also making clear that innovation alone does not guarantee good outcomes. Will appeal to those studying or working in public policy or economics.
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