Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change

Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change Hardcover

by Edmund S. Phelps (Author)

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In this book, Nobel Prize-winning economist Edmund Phelps draws on a lifetime of thinking to make a sweeping new argument about what makes nations prosper–and why the sources of that prosperity are under threat today. Why did prosperity explode in some nations between the 1820s and 1960s, creating not just unprecedented material wealth but “flourishing”–meaningful work, self-expression, and personal growth for more people than ever before? Phelps makes the case that the wellspring of this flourishing was modern values such as the desire to create, explore, and meet challenges. These values fueled the grassroots dynamism that was necessary for widespread, indigenous innovation. Most innovation wasn’t driven by a few isolated visionaries like Henry Ford; rather, it was driven by millions of people empowered to think of, develop, and market innumerable new products and processes, and improvements to existing ones. Mass flourishing–a combination of material well-being and the “good life” in a broader sense–was created by this mass innovation.

Yet indigenous innovation and flourishing weakened decades ago. In America, evidence indicates that innovation and job satisfaction have decreased since the late 1960s, while postwar Europe has never recaptured its former dynamism. The reason, Phelps argues, is that the modern values underlying the modern economy are under threat by a resurgence of traditional, corporatist values that put the community and state over the individual. The ultimate fate of modern values is now the most pressing question for the West: will Western nations recommit themselves to modernity, grassroots dynamism, indigenous innovation, and widespread personal fulfillment, or will we go on with a narrowed innovation that limits flourishing to a few?

A book of immense practical and intellectual importance, Mass Flourishing is essential reading for anyone who cares about the sources of prosperity and the future of the West.Editorial Reviews

Review

“[I]nquiring readers, not just academics and social scientists, will enjoy the vast learning in Phelps’s sophisticated, sometimes sardonic, look at homo economicus.”–Publishers Weekly
“Phelps has produced an insightful work that bridges gaps among economics, sociology, and philosophy to identify countries that have the capabilities to prosper and flourish. This book is an essential read for individuals interested in better assessing countries’ economies and competitive advantages.”–Library Journal
“The author ranges extremely widely and any student of any age will gain something from it, irrespective of political views.”–Samuel Brittan, Financial Times
“Phelps’s book deserves credit for showing that the strength of an economy doesn’t depend on small differences in the tax rate, or the tactics of a country’s central bank. Phelps rightly points out that economic dynamism depends on much deeper issues like a culture’s affinity for risk taking and respect for individual achievement. And he wields convincing statistics that suggest actors in our political economy, from our government, to corporations, to workers, have to some extent lost their reverence for these values.”–Chris Matthews, Time.com Money & Business

From the Inside Flap

“Anyone who finds today’s economic debates too small-minded for the immense challenges we face should be drawn to this important work. Only Edmund Phelps would place ultimate blame for the Great Recession on the loss of the right concept of the good life. Phelps has been ahead of his time as an economic thinker for a half century. This may be his deepest, boldest, and most important work.”–Lawrence H. Summers, Harvard University

“Few scholars have had the capacity to place the concept of the ‘good life’ in the context of both philosophical and economic thought. That is what Edmund Phelps has done in his masterly analysis of what he terms a ‘modern economy,’ once exemplified by Americans’ capacity to innovate, to challenge, to dream–and to grow. But he warns that this model needs to be refreshed and changed to restore its potential.”–Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve

“In this magisterial sweep of historical storytelling, Edmund Phelps draws upon his rich and deep cultural hinterland–from Robin Hood to Karl Marx to Friedrich Hayek–to explore why some countries develop dynamic economies driven by incessant innovation and inspiration while others still lag far behind. Economic history has rarely been more penetratingly understood and engagingly told.”–Nicholas Wapshott, author of Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics

“This extraordinary, paradigm-shifting book provides fascinating and fresh insights into the relationship between economic systems, innovation, and creativity. Drawing from a dazzling array of historical and contemporary evidence, Edmund Phelps shows that misguided economic ideas have fractured societies and stifled well-being, and he provides a framework for going beyond the current predicament to create a better world. This book should be read by the widest possible audience.”–Ian Goldin, director of the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford

“In this powerful book, Edmund Phelps disrupts lines of debate between right and left. He shows how human initiative and creativity hold the key to future economic prosperity and social progress, and argues that what is holding us back are not the demands of the needy, but rather the stranglehold of conservative attitudes and entrenched privileges, which have steadily narrowed the field for individual innovation and accomplishment.”–Philip K. Howard, author of The Death of Common Sense

“This book is what Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations should have been about, if it were to have been an even more important book. Mass Flourishing contains much history, but it focuses more on what society should do today, and it provides a call to action.”–Robert J. Shiller, author of Finance and the Good Society

“This book is very good indeed, drawing on a lifetime of thought and experience and a wide knowledge outside economics as well as, of course, in it. Phelps?s argument about the relationship between personal flourishing, the dynamism of a society, and the innovative capacity of that society is well argued and clearly enunciated.”–John Kay, author of Obliquity: Why Our Goals Are Best Achieved Indirectly

About the Author

Edmund Phelps was the 2006 Nobel Laureate in economics. He is director of the Center on Capitalism and Society at Columbia University. His many books include “Designing Inclusion,” “Rewarding Work”, and “Seven Schools of Macroeconomic Thought”.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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