No one doubts the economic importance of science and technology but, as the authors gently put it, the "factors that lead to differences among nations and firms with respect to innovative performance are not well understood." Their method of digging into these problems is largely historical, using American-and to some extent British-experience since the mid-nineteenth century and stressing the changes since World War II, notably in government help and the internationalization of business. Differences abound among countries, time periods, industries and firms, so the voluminous data and often fascinating analyses do not yield clear and simple conclusions. Doubts are thrown on many common prescriptions for policy by this fine study, which is worth far more than the exhortations that have become so frequent.
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