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Boulevard of Broken Dreams

by Josh Lerner

Silicon Valley, Singapore, Tel Aviv--the global hubs of entrepreneurial activity--all bear the marks of government investment. Yet, for every public intervention that spurs entrepreneurial activity, there are many failed efforts that waste untold billions in taxpayer dollars. When has governmental sponsorship succeeded in boosting growth, and when has it fallen terribly short? Should the government be involved in such undertakings at all? Boulevard of Broken Dreams is the first extensive look at the ways governments have supported entrepreneurs and venture capitalists across decades and continents. Josh Lerner, one of the foremost experts in the field, provides valuable insights into why some public initiatives work while others are hobbled by pitfalls, and he offers suggestions for how public ventures should be implemented in the future. Discussing the complex history of Silicon Valley and other pioneering centers of venture capital, Lerner uncovers the extent of government influence in prompting growth. He examines the public strategies used to advance new ventures, points to the challenges of these endeavors, and reveals the common flaws undermining far too many programs--poor design, a lack of understanding for the entrepreneurial process, and implementation problems. Lerner explains why governments cannot dictate how venture markets evolve, and why they must balance their positions as catalysts with an awareness of their limited ability to stimulate the entrepreneurial sector. As governments worldwide seek to spur economic growth in ever more aggressive ways, Boulevard of Broken Dreams offers an important caution. The book argues for a careful approach to government support of entrepreneurial activities, so that the mistakes of earlier efforts are not repeated.

Innovation and Its Discontents

by Josh Lerner Adam B. Jaffe

The United States patent system has become sand rather than lubricant in the wheels of American progress. Such is the premise behind this provocative and timely book by two of the nation's leading experts on patents and economic innovation. Innovation and Its Discontents tells the story of how recent changes in patenting--an institutional process that was created to nurture innovation--have wreaked havoc on innovators, businesses, and economic productivity. Jaffe and Lerner, who have spent the past two decades studying the patent system, show how legal changes initiated in the 1980s converted the system from a stimulator of innovation to a creator of litigation and uncertainty that threatens the innovation process itself. In one telling vignette, Jaffe and Lerner cite a patent litigation campaign brought by a a semi-conductor chip designer that claims control of an entire category of computer memory chips. The firm's claims are based on a modest 15-year old invention, whose scope and influenced were broadened by secretly manipulating an industry-wide cooperative standard-setting body. Such cases are largely the result of two changes in the patent climate, Jaffe and Lerner contend. First, new laws have made it easier for businesses and inventors to secure patents on products of all kinds, and second, the laws have tilted the table to favor patent holders, no matter how tenuous their claims. After analyzing the economic incentives created by the current policies, Jaffe and Lerner suggest a three-pronged solution for restoring the patent system: create incentives to motivate parties who have information about the novelty of a patent; provide multiple levels of patent review; and replace juries with judges and special masters to preside over certain aspects of infringement cases. Well-argued and engagingly written, Innovation and Its Discontents offers a fresh approach for enhancing both the nation's creativity and its economic growth.

Innovation Policy and the Economy 2013: Volume 14

by Josh Lerner Scott Stern

Appreciation of the importance of innovation to the economy has increased over the past decade. There is an active debate regarding the implications of technological change for economic policy and the appropriate policies and programs regarding research, innovation, and the commercialization of new technology. This debate has only intensified as policymakers focus on new sources of innovation and growth in light of the recent economic downturn and the associated focus on enhancing employment and growth. Four of the five papers in this year's volume highlight the increasing role of the Internet and digitization in our understanding of the changing nature of innovation and entrepreneurship, and the impact of innovation policy. The first offers an overview of the impact of "Big Data" on the ability to conduct novel types of measurement and research in economics and related fields. The second highlights the increasingly sophisticated and creative research designs that have been used to evaluate the interplay between piracy, the availability of legitimate digital channels, and the impact of anti-piracy enforcement efforts. The third paper provides an overview of the rapidly emerging area of crowdfunding. The fourth addresses the underpinnings of much of the digital economy by focusing on the institutional logic of standard-setting organizations and the conditions that allow standard-setting bodies to function and achieve their objectives. The final paper focuses on the interplay between geographic clusters, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

Innovation Policy and the Economy 2014: Volume 15

by Josh Lerner William R. Kerr Scott Stern

The fifteenth volume of Innovation Policy and the Economy is the first to focus on a single theme: high-skilled immigration to the United States. The first paper is the product of a long-term research effort on the impact of immigration to the United States of Russian mathematicians beginning around 1990 as the Soviet Union collapsed. The second paper describes how obtaining a degree from a US undergraduate university can open an important pathway for immigrants to participate in the US labor market in IT occupations. The third paper considers the changing nature of postdoctoral positions in science departments, which are disproportionately held by immigrant researchers. The fourth paper considers the role of US firms in high-skilled immigration. The last paper describes how strong growth in global scientific and technological knowledge production has reduced the share of world scientific activity in the United States, increased the immigrant proportion of scientists and engineers at US universities and firms, and fostered cross-border collaborations for US scientists.

International Differences in Entrepreneurship

by Josh Lerner Antoinette Schoar

Often considered one of the major forces behind economic growth and development, the entrepreneurial firm can accelerate the speed of innovation and dissemination of new technologies, thus increasing a country's competitive edge in the global market. As a result, cultivating a strong culture of entrepreneurial thinking has become a primary goal throughout the world. Surprisingly, there has been little systematic research or comparative analysis to show how the growth of entrepreneurship differs among countries in various stages of development. International Differences in Entrepreneurship fills this void by explaining how a country's institutional differences, cultural considerations, and personal characteristics can affect the role that entrepreneurs play in its economy. Developing an understanding of the origins of entrepreneurs as well as the choices they make and the complexity of their activities across countries and industries are of central importance to this volume. In addition, contributors consider how environmental factors of individual economies, such as market regulation, government subsidies for banks, and support for entrepreneurial culture affect the industry and the impact that entrepreneurs have on growth in developing nations.

Making Democracy Fun

by Josh Lerner

Anyone who has ever been to a public hearing or community meeting would agree that participatory democracy can be boring. Hours of repetitive presentations, alternatingly alarmist or complacent, for or against, accompanied by constant heckling, often with no clear outcome or decision. Is this the best democracy can offer? In Making Democracy Fun, Josh Lerner offers a novel solution for the sad state of our deliberative democracy: the power of good game design. What if public meetings featured competition and collaboration (such as team challenges), clear rules (presented and modeled in multiple ways), measurable progress (such as scores and levels), and engaging sounds and visuals? These game mechanics would make meetings more effective and more enjoyable -- even fun. Lerner reports that institutions as diverse as the United Nations, the U.S. Army, and grassroots community groups are already using games and game-like processes to encourage participation. Drawing on more than a decade of practical experience and extensive research, he explains how games have been integrated into a variety of public programs in North and South America. He offers rich stories of game techniques in action, in children's councils, social service programs, and participatory budgeting and planning. With these real-world examples in mind, Lerner describes five kinds of games and twenty-six game mechanics that are especially relevant for democracy. He finds that when governments and organizations use games and design their programs to be more like games, public participation becomes more attractive, effective, and transparent. Game design can make democracy fun -- and make it work.

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