Schumpeter: Prophet of Innovation

Joseph Schumpeter started analyzing innovation management more than seventy years ago, and his theories and ideas are still influential among academics and business men. Recently, in fact, Harvard Business School’s professor Thomas McCraw released a book titled “Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction.”

In the HBS Working Knowledge website there is an interesting interview with the author. Check out his answer for the question “Why Schumpeter?”:

“I first encountered Schumpeter many years ago, as an undergraduate, and I’ve enjoyed reading his works ever since. But the main reason I wrote this book is the tremendous resonance his ideas have had with my HBS students and with businesspeople.

I think Schumpeter is the most penetrating analyst of capitalism who ever lived. He saw things other people didn’t see, partly because he lived in 7 different countries. He also served briefly as Austria’s finance minister and worked for 3 years as an investment banker, where he made a fortune that he promptly lost in a stock market crash. So he wasn’t a typical academic, even though he spent most of his career as a professor, including almost 20 years at Harvard.

As for my title, here’s the quotation that inspired it: “Without innovations, no entrepreneurs; without entrepreneurial achievement, no capitalist returns and no capitalist propulsion.” Schumpeter wrote this sentence during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Many, many smart people of that time believed that technology had reached its limits and capitalism had passed its peak. Schumpeter believed the exact opposite, and of course he was right.”

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