Creating a Learning Society

A New Approach to Growth, Development and Social Progress

by Joseph E. Stiglitz , Bruce Greenwald

Number of pages: 660

Publisher: AMACOM

BBB Library: Politics and Public Affairs

ISBN: 9780231152143

About the Authors

Joseph E. Stiglitz : Joseph Eugene Stiglitz, ForMemRS, FBA is an American economist and a


Bruce Greenwald : Bruce Greenwald is a professor at Colmubia University's Graduate School of


Editorial Review

Creating a Learning Society explains how the countries of the world went from centuries of stagnation to the enormous increases in standards of living that have marked the last two hundred and fifty years: they have learned how to learn. Yet, as Stiglitz and Greenwald make clear, markets won't succeed on their own in creating the learning society that we need. Achieving this requires good governmental policy in a variety of areas, including trade, industry, and intellectual property. Indeed, the central thesis of this book is that every policy--tax, regulation, and expenditure--affects learning, and that policymakers have been remiss in ignoring this. Some policies, such as the Washington Consensus policies foisted on developing countries by the World Bank and IMF, actually impede learning. In advanced and developing countries alike, Creating a Learning Society has had a remarkable reception. Governments in Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey, Jordan, and South Africa have signaled strong support for its policies, and a Dutch think tank closely allied with the government released a blueprint for creating a learning economy. This streamlined edition, intended for everyone from scholars to general readers, omits the original book's complicated mathematical equations and, in accessible language, focuses on its central messages and policy prescriptions. 

Book Reviews

"They show well-designed government trade and industrial policies can help create a learning society" - Columbia University Press

"Stiglitz and Greenwald's ideas regarding the importance of knowledge cannot be disputed" - World Scientific

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Wisdom to Share

It is both cause and consequence.

Exchange rate volatility is closely associated with macroeconomic instability.

The exchange rate reflects the competitiveness of the economy-the ability of exporters to export and of import-competing firms to compete with import.

To sum up, knowledge is a free good. The biggest cost in its transmission is not in the production or distribution of knowledge, but in its assimilation.

One of the advantages of trade is that it facilitates the spreading of information of technological knowledge.

Rules and procedures often hinder change, and change makes the implementation of rules and procedures more difficult, for they have to be constantly adapted to changing circumstances.

In a modern economy, the successful introduction of an innovation entails more than just satisfying a market test.

In a world with little change, there are few catalysts to learning, and little effort is spent on creating change to adapt to it.

In a world with little change, there are few catalysts to learning, and little effort is spent on creating change to adapt to it.

Individuals and firms have to adopt a cognitive frame; a mindset that is conducive to learning.

opening up to the rest of the world catalyzes learning and provides contacts from whom one can learn.

Successful exporters have to learn what it is that customers want; they have to learn about what competitors are supplying, and figure out how to outperform.

Workers move from firm to firm and thus convey some of the learning that has occurred in one firm to those in others.

New machines can also be a catalyst for learning.

New machines can also be a catalyst for learning.

Technological knowledge is embodied in machines, and a machine constructed for one purpose can often be adapted for quite another.

How much we learn by doing is affected by how we do what we do.

There are several empirical arguments that can be brought to bear to support our conclusion concerning the importance of learning.

In developing countries, almost all firms may be catching up with global best practices.

learning touches every aspect of a modern dynamic economy and even more so of an emerging market struggling to become an advanced industrial country.

the private sector typically produces too little of goods that gives rise to positive externalities.

The financial crisis has called attention to the role of the government in crisis prevention.

There is not a single breakthrough that led to enhanced learning capacities, but rather a series of organizational innovation.

Ideas have to be disseminated and put into practice: much of the increase in productivity occurs as firms learn from each other or as technology improves through practice.

Knowledge, like information, is asymmetric. Each individual knows things that others don't.

A "LEARNING society" perspective takes a very different view of growth and development strategies from the standard neoclassical approach in several respects.