Publications / Small Business & Entrepreneurship

Publications

Policy Brief

By / 11.20.2015

With the release of the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), America now has an important—and extensive—opportunity to review the agreement’s actual terms. Critics are certain to reprise old arguments, including those that blame trade for economic disruptions whose origins often lie elsewhere. And they’ll offer newer criticisms, including the claim that TPP isn’t […]

Policy Brief

By / 9.10.2015

All around the world we are seeing the rise of the App Economy—jobs, companies, and economic growth created by the production and distribution of mobile applications (“apps”) that run on smartphones. Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, the App Economy has grown from nothing to a powerful economic force that rivals existing industries. […]

Policy Memo

By / 3.3.2015

The power of the Internet has redefined the global economy for the 21st Century. As of 2014, over three billion people around the world were connected. The corresponding boom in Internet-based retailers, news and information providers, and online entertainment and video companies has been just as impressive. Businesses go where the customers are, and increasingly […]

Policy Memo

By / 7.30.2014

Is Australia ready for the digital economy? This is obviously a subject of great debate, intertwined with decisions about investments in the National Broadband Network and public concerns about data privacy. It is clear that some parts of the Australian digital economy, notably mobile communications, are quite vibrant. Two recent reports from the Australian Communications […]

Policy Brief

By / 5.22.2014

The recent White House report on big data has garnered a great deal of public attention, both for its strong support for big data as a “driver of progress” and for its highlighting of privacy concerns. The bottom line of the report: “Americans’ relationship with data should expand, not diminish, their opportunities and potential.” However, […]

Policy Brief

By / 10.19.2013

The last few years have been tough for many cities and localities. Most places have not yet fully recovered from the financial collapse, either in terms of jobs or revenues. High growth seems unattainable. But some cities and localities—ranging from New York to New Orleans to Davis County, Utah—are doing unexpectedly well. What they have […]

Policy Brief

By / 12.15.2011

Among the many casualties of the 2007-2008 financial meltdown were small businesses. As the financial system virtually shut down, millions of small business owners across America found themselves unable to get the credit they desperately needed to run their businesses, let alone expand. As a result, thousands of otherwise flourishing firms were forced into bankruptcy […]

Policy Memo

By / 12.13.2011

Conventional wisdom these days says that small is better when it comes to innovation and putting new ideas into practice. Large enterprises are typically thought of as hidebound defenders of the status quo, dominating by market power and brute force rather than technological and innovative prowess. Yet reality is far more complicated than this simple […]

Policy Brief

By / 12.13.2011

In 2004, Google made headlines by “going public,” raising $1.7 billion in what was then the biggest initial stock offering since the heady days of the tech boom.

Policy Memo

By / 12.7.2011

Conventional wisdom these days says that small is better when it comes to innovation and putting new ideas into practice.1 Large enterprises are typically thought of as hidebound defenders of the status quo, dominating by market power and brute force rather than technological and innovative prowess.

Yet reality is far more complicated than this simple small versus big distinction. As we all know many common-sense beliefs turn out to be only partly true, or not to be true at all.

In this policy memo we will reconsider the link between scale (size) and innovation. After 20 years where startups have rightly dominated the innovation headlines, we will show that the pendulum may be swinging back. As a result, there are reasons to believe that scale may be a plus for innovation in today’s economy, not a minus. We will then relate scale to government policy, U.S. competitiveness and prosperity.

The now-heretical idea that scale is an advantage for innovation actually dates back more than 60 years. Back then, Harvard economist Joseph Schumpeter, the inventor of the term ‘creative destruction’, suggested that large-scale firms were “the most powerful engine of progress.” Following after his work, economists developed what came to be known as the “Schumpeterian Hypothesis.” The first part of the Schumpeterian Hypothesis was the argument that bigger firms have more of an incentive to spend on innovation than a smaller one. For example, if we compare a company that manufactures 50 million t-shirts a year versus one that manufactures 10,000 t-shirts a year, the larger company is much more like to spend the big bucks needed to develop and test a new process for dyeing the t-shirts.

The second part of the Schumpeterian Hypothesis is the observation that companies with more market power might also be more willing to invest in innovation. The argument is that if a firm in an ultra-competitive market innovates, the new product or service is quickly copied by rivals, so that the gains from innovations are quickly competed away. Conversely, a firm with market power has the ability to hold onto some of its gains from innovation, so it may pay to invest in product or other improvements.