It has become fashionable, especially among some Americans and British, to believe that the government that governs least, governs best. In particular, according to this strain of thought, innovation and entrepreneurship thrive most when government gets out of the way. Mazzucato strongly challenges this view, arguing that the most important innovations of recent decades can virtually all be traced back to government support and often to government initiative. Specifically, the advancing frontiers of information technology, biotechnology, and energy have their origins in government-sponsored research and often in direct government investment. The same holds true for shale gas and electric automobiles, two innovations often praised as the fruits of private initiative. Mazzucato concedes that some government expenditures on innovation have been unproductive and even condemned as government waste by their critics. But that is hardly surprising, she counters: the absence of such mistakes would imply a lack of healthy risk taking. Mazzucato supports her thesis with numerous examples and case studies and argues persuasively that a successful, innovative society must draw on symbiotic partnerships between governmental and private entities.
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