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Reflections on the Drive to Technological Maturity

  • W. W. Rostow

Abstract

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.’

Keywords

Rich Country Technological Maturity Investment Rate Pacific Basin Manufacture Export 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Neustadt, Richard E., and May, Ernest R., Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision-Makers (New York, The Free Press, 1986), p. 207.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Rostow, W.W., (ed.), The Economics of Take-off into Sustained Growth (London, Macmillan, 1963), p. xiii.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    For reference to my discussion with D.H. Robertson, see The Process of Economic Growth (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1953, 1960), pp. 5–7.Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    Keynes, J.M., General Theory (London, Macmillan, 1936) p. 292.Google Scholar
  5. 25.
    Ohkawa, Kazushi, and Rosovsky, Henry, ‘A Century of Japanese Economic Growth’, in W.W. Lockwood (ed.), The State and Economic Entreprise in Japan (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1965), pp. 52–3. The comparison of the two sets of stages is presented and discussed in my Politics and the Stages of Growth, pp. 378–9.Google Scholar
  6. 27.
    Lewis, W. Arthur, ‘The State of Development Theory’, American Economic Review, vol. 74, Number 1, March 1984, p. 3.Google Scholar
  7. 30.
    Naipaul, Shiva, An Unfinished Journey (London, Hamish Hamilton, 1986), pp. 34–5.Google Scholar
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  9. 34.
    The quotations are to be found, respectively, in Istvan Hont, op. cit., p. 300 (where original sources are provided), and Smith, Adam, The Wealth of Nations, edited by Edwin Cannan (New York, Random House, 1937), p. 462.Google Scholar
  10. 35.
    Hamilton, Alexander, ‘Report on Manufactures’ (1791), in Alexander Hamilton’s Papers on Public Credit Commerce and Finance, McKee, Samuel (ed.) (New York, Columbia University Press, 1934), pp. 227.Google Scholar
  11. 36.
    Marshall, Alfred, Industry and Trade (London, Macmillan, 1919, reprint, New York, Augustus M. Kelley, 1970, Reprints of Economic Classics), chs III-V, especially pp. 95–106, 157–62.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Banca Nazionale del Lavoro 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. W. Rostow

There are no affiliations available

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