Reflections on the Drive to Technological Maturity

  • W. W. Rostow


Having accepted the invitation of the editors of the BNL Quarterly Review to reflect on the evolution of my ‘intellectual developments, theoretical debates, and so on’, I was, for a time, puzzled as to how to proceed. The unlikely catalyst proved to be a single sentence written by two respected old friends:1 ‘Rostow’s book, published in 1960, generalised to all human history and to all the future a model based on the experience of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain, partially repeated by the United States.’ So far as the intellectual basis for The Stages of Economic Growth, its structure and pretensions to universality are concerned, they are quite wrong; and I shall shortly indicate why. But I have not responded to much more extreme and colourful misstatements of my views. As I said in the introduction to the volume of the International Economic Association reporting the 1960 Konstanz conference on the take-off:2 ‘As for the take-off, it will have to look after itself … Like all intellectual constructs it will survive only if it meets the hard pragmatic test of usefulness to others — if it illuminates problems that deeply concern them. No market is — or should be — more ruthlessly competitive than the market place for ideas.’


Rich Country Technological Maturity Investment Rate Pacific Basin Manufacture Export 
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© Banca Nazionale del Lavoro 1989

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  • W. W. Rostow

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