Tuesday, February 2, 2010


@montero funny how entrepreneurs define by creating and academics define by quoting and correcting each other.

me: guilty as charged
Having for five years taken great joy in editing a journal featuring narratives by entrepreneurs addressing global challenges, I can relate to what Montero's saying here. Academic one-upmanhip isn't even interesting to academics. How can it possibly be interesting to anyone else?

But, in the immortal words of Peter Finch, IMAHAINGTTIA!

Take the alleged "debate" over what works in development, featuring the inimitable (please don't try) Jeffrey Sachs and his Big Apple neighbor, William Easterly. Why would the two of them be adversaries on the topic of what works in development? After all, they both know what works and what's more, they agree!

But not only don't they listen to each other, they don't even listen to themselves. (For you folks watching at home: Yes, that is pathetic.)

Here's the Jeffrey Sachs version:
I believe that the single most important reason why prosperity spread, and why it continues to spread, is the transmission of technologies and the ideas underlying them. (The End of Poverty, p. 41)
Here's Easterly:
Historically, industrialization arose in initially poor countries which have since become rich, with the common theme of a heavy reliance on both domestic and international market opportunities and decentralized private entrepreneurship.
Now only two things need to happen to connect the dots between these two statements.

One is to pull Sachs out of whatever Secretariat meeting he happens to be in at the moment to remind him that human beings are responsible for the "transmission of technologies" and furthermore that the most adept among us at this task actually have a name: technology entrepreneurs. These people do not wear lab coats (for the most part), they do not work at the United Nations, and they do not know Bono.

The other thing that needs to happen here is to drag Bill Easterly away from friendly chats with fellow economists for long enough to give the topic of aid effectiveness a rest (perhaps permanently) and start spending some time and attention studying what matters most in development.

And, again, what was that?

Entrepreneurs. Technology. Innovation. These have been the drivers of increased prosperity for the past 500 years. They continue to be the drivers of increased prosperity today.

Jeff and Bill: If you don't agree with this statement, why do you yourselves--like pretty much all other growth and development economists--use variants of it in your own writings?

And if you do agree with this statement, then why don't either of you pay any serious, scholarly attention to entrepreneurs, technology, and innovation?

What is the matter with you people!


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