PPI In the News

Mandel’s Scale Report Featured in The Economist

By / 12.16.2011

PPI Chief Economic Strategist Michael Mandel’s new report on scale and innovation is featured in this week’s Economist‘s Schumpeter column:

SOME people say it is neither big nor clever to drink. Viz, a British comic, settled that debate with a letter from a reader who said: “I drink 15 pints a day, I’m 6 foot 3 inches tall and a professor of theoretical physics.” However, another question about size and cleverness has yet to be resolved. Are big companies the best catalysts of innovation, or are small ones better?

Joseph Schumpeter, after whom this column is named, argued both sides of the case. In 1909 he said that small companies were more inventive. In 1942 he reversed himself. Big firms have more incentive to invest in new products, he decided, because they can sell them to more people and reap greater rewards more quickly. In a competitive market, inventions are quickly imitated, so a small inventor’s investment often fails to pay off.

These days the second Schumpeter is out of fashion: people assume that little start-ups are creative and big firms are slow and bureaucratic. But that is a gross oversimplification, says Michael Mandel of the Progressive Policy Institute, a think-tank. In a new report on “scale and innovation”, he concludes that today’s economy favours big companies over small ones. Big is back, as this newspaper has argued. And big is clever, for three reasons.

Read it at The Economist.

Download Mandel’s report – Scale and Innovation in Today’s Economy.