The Dynamism of Nations: Toward a Theory of Indigenous Innovation

32 Pages Posted: 4 May 2017  

Edmund S. Phelps

Center on Capitalism and Society, Columbia University

Date Written: 2017

Abstract

Modern life invaded societies in the 19th century: First in Britain and America, later in Germany and France. Increasing numbers were driven not just by a work ethic or a desire to accumulate: They were dreamers, tinkerers, and adventurers on a journey, exercising their imagination, creativity, and curiosity. The result was not simply a “take-off” into sustained growth; the economy was turned into a vast imaginarium in which people conceived new products, uses, and approaches, as well as methods of production. This indigenous innovation, coming from the grassroots up, was the foundation of modern life: The satisfaction of “succeeding” at what one is doing, the satisfactions one has from “flourishing,” and the thrill of the unknown. These “soft” rewards of work are important, as are material rewards. By now, however, “soft” rewards seem to have fallen off and growth has slowed. Have modern values narrowed to a trickle or has big business choked off the dynamism of old?

Suggested Citation

Phelps, Edmund S., The Dynamism of Nations: Toward a Theory of Indigenous Innovation (2017). Capitalism and Society, Vol. 12 [2017], Iss. 1, Art. 3. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2963105

Edmund S. Phelps (Contact Author)

Center on Capitalism and Society, Columbia University ( email )

420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States
212-854-2060 (Phone)
212-854-8059 (Fax)

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