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The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  790 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Clayton M. Christensen, the author of such business classics as The Innovator’s Dilemma and the New York Times bestseller How Will You Measure Your Life, and co-authors Efosa Ojomo and Karen Dillon reveal why so many investments in economic development fail to generate sustainable prosperity, and offers a groundbreaking solution for true and lasting change.

Global poverty i
ebook, 368 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by Harper Business
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Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Oh boy--what to say about this book. I'll start with the history--no, America did not become prosperous thanks to innovators like Ford and Singer. There are many reasons for our prosperity (i.e. we became the empire, we put the world on the dollar standard, we had lots of resources, we successfully created a mixed economy, etc etc). And the poor aren't poor because they lacked innovation--go read Jason Hickel's book or literally any other good development book to look at the root causes of pover ...more
It's taken me a while to write a review of this book (longer than it took me to finish it). But I've finally been able to marshal my thoughts into something semi-cohesive, so here it goes:

The main argument of the Prosperity Paradox is that market-creating innovation drives growth -- good institutions, infrastructure, etc are secondary. Using historical examples from the US, Korea and some contemporary cases in Mexico, Nigeria (and a lot of other countries), the authors challenge us to rethink th
Miebara Jato
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
For centuries, economists have debated what brings about economic development, what are the best mechanisms for tackling poverty. There are two leading schools: The Keynesian camp that supports state intervention and; the free marketers that argues for a private sector-led entrepreneurial state.

Of course, the world has tested both options and the result isn't completely sound. The 2008 economic crisis gives us enough reason to be wary of free-market's promises. And the inherent crisis of Marxis
Terry Earley
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it

I am not sure I agree with all of Christensen's premises that creating markets will lift 3rd world counties out of poverty. He provides plenty of examples, and research, mainly from his colleagues at Harvard.

What I did enjoy and saved was his chapter on corruption. He posits that each year, the world pays between 1.5 and 2 trillion USD in bribes. That puts a huge dent in the world economy. He writes that much of this is from ordinary people finding themse
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Christensen tackles the national development this time. Well known to the business world as the Innovation Professor, he asked why foreign aid never worked in alleviating poverty in developing nations. He used the example of well building in poor regions in Africa: it works for a while and when it dries up or breaks down, no one has the expertise or the parts to fix it. So the broken well becomes a monument showing how aid does not work. Or computers sent to communities where there is no electri ...more
Cristina Balan
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Outstanding! I am so grateful to have been able to read this book, and so sad that professor Clayton M. Christensen is no longer with us. Such a loss!
Every page of the book shows his passion for innovation and love of people.
Food for thought, ideas that could emerge simply by looking into the right direction (i.e. non-consumers, processes that need and can be improved) - everything is in there. With real life examples, one can learn from both successful initiatives and huge failures.
Do yourse
Farida Ladipo-Ajayi
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
So much insight into markets in countries all over the world, learnt a lot of that. The book was too long in my opinion, and I listened to the audio version so it just seemed to go on and on. Nonetheless it was a good listen, provoked some thoughts about what I do currently in my home country
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an important book! I just hope that those who have the clout to implement its principles actually read it and put it in to practice! Throwing money at poverty has never worked in the long run, but creating business and opportunity does.
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Christensen is known for his economic theories on innovation, and in this book he looks specifically at innovation that drives growth in developing regions -- somewhat related to my field of work (building new technology products for emerging markets) so very interesting to me.

His main case is that "market creating innovation", that is innovation that creates entirely new markets by targeting non-consumers (say, inventing a new type of low cost motorbike and selling it to people who would otherw
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a great book on how innovation can lift an economy. Great examples. Sound insights. Super inspiring. Will need to own and mark up.
Mad Hab
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Not his best book, but still better than anything else
Mike Bright
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great book on the failures of most current development efforts in third world countries. The emphasis is on innovation that targets unreached consumer populations. There is a lot of good theory behind their claims (from authors with great credentials), and also a lot of practical examples of innovations that served new populations, created jobs, developed infrastructure and had lasting impact. The focus is on creative solutions that pull development in, rather than pushing from the outside.
Feb 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Was drawn to read this book after having Clayton Christensen's other book, How Will you Measure Your Life. However, this was more of an academic read rather than a personal read. Good analysis and case studies of what has and has not worked in raising nations out of poverty. However, left with the feeling of 'what can I do'. Perhaps this book will come to me if ever placed in a position related to urban development or choosing what sort of endeavours to support ...more
This is a great book focusing on market-creating innovations and seeing opportunities and potential instead of problems and poverty. This creates change.

"I witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of poverty: I lost friends to preventable illnesses and saw families routinely having to make impossible choices among putting food on the table, educating their children, or supporting the older generation. Suffering was a part of daily life... I am happy to say that when I visit South Korea today,
Charles Nguyen
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-buy
Really nice book on push vs. pull when trying to solve problems, with emphasis on developing regions. With the constant desire to solve the world's problems, we keep pushing our solutions without regard to the long-term sustainability model. The solution is to seek solutions that can be maintained. This progress can and should be made by "local" innovation and entrepreneurs. The chapter on corruption was also quite enlightening, applying the same concepts of local problem solving to address corr ...more
Ashwin Chhabria
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Clayton Christensen is one of my favourite thinkers. He has great structure in writing and takes a lot of time and care to deliver seminal insights in simple words. This book talks about innovation and how under-developed markets can be viewed as a great opportunity for new businesses (provided they are offering a real need). The authors of this book discuss, in great detail, the opportunities and progress in 5 different nations- Africa, India, South Korea, Japan and America amongst many other t ...more
Irina Ioana
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a difference between Milton Friedman's neoliberal free market policies (where a business would own just the brand, and everything else is sub-rented, privatised and ends up corrupt due to revenue margins) and this take on what makes a business, society and country prosperous. Investing in the production chain and people.
The greatest example given in the book is South Korea.
Aug 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Insightful book by the late Harvard Business School giant that focuses on the subtitle: how innovation can lift nations out of poverty. Where governments or corruption or other obstacles have failed or blocked prosperity historically, Christensen explains how innovation, non-consumption markets, "pulling" strategies, and a focus on solutions for local needs can and does transform nations and lift them out of poverty. This in turn paves the way for infrastructure, the reduction of corruption, and ...more
TEELOCK Mithilesh
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: refer, suggestion
Why have some nations become prosperous while others have remained poor—and in many cases poorer than half a century ago? Harvard Business School professor Christensen (The Power of Everyday Missionaries: The What and How of Sharing the Gospel, 2013, etc.) and colleagues venture some suggestive answers.

Prosperity, by the authors’ account, does not mean simply relative wealth, but also access to goods such as education and health care as well as the promise of good governance and upward mobility.
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
The subject matter of this book is difficult to beat in importance, and in signature Clay Christensen fashion, the approach and analysis to an enormously complex problem is made accessible and almost deceptively simple. The authors' core argument is that a certain kind of innovation, called a "market-creating innovation," can help lift nations out of poverty by generating profits, creating jobs, and by orienting culture in more prosperous ways. The plan of the book is: first, to describe the var ...more
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a book about market innovation - and focuses largely on private companies leading the way in development. It's a very well-structured book: we start with the idea that there are three kinds of innovation: sustaining innovation (improvements to existing solutions on the market), efficiency innovation (companies can do more with fewer resources), and market-creating innovation (targetes non-consumption). The latter is the most important, and the book focuses on that.

Perhaps it's the nature
Apr 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This book would make a great article. Not enough new opinions/theories to make a full book. Runs on market-worlder philosophy that market innovations can save the world (which I may just be too disillusioned by after reading Winners Take All to be impressed by the nuance offered here).

The basic tenants are that that specifically innovations that turn non-consumers into customers of products/services previously inaccessible, too expensive, too complicated, etc. for them to be relevant. Innovatio
Ronald J.
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Alleviating poverty is not the same as creating prosperity. We can’t end poverty by focusing on poverty. I was bit surprised by how this book never just says that wealth is the only known antidote to poverty, and how poverty needs no explanation, it’s the natural condition of mankind. What needs explaining is wealth. That said, this book does explain how to create that wealth, by creating market-creating innovations that are sustainable. I believe Deirdre McCloskey, George Gilder, Michael Novak, ...more
Aug 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Prosperity depends on market creating innovation producing services and products that are affordable. That means focusing on non-consumers, and making them consumers; like when cell phones were first brought to Africa and other poor places; and life insurance, Indomie noodles (Nigeria), and m-pesa (Kenya). Unlike strategies that push resources to reduce poverty, this type of innovation pulls resources, like education and training and health care for essential workers and transport and distributi ...more
Sumit Srivastava
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are few who can equal Clayton at digging into conventional wisdom. This is one more gem of a book.

Given unlimited wealth, how would you remove the poverty of a poor nation? Is it not obvious that the people be provided for, directly, with what they lack? The authors call this as "push" strategy. The authors argue that, while the push strategy feels good, are more satisfying, and even morally acceptable; they do not really solve the fundamental problems.

They contend the popular-belief that
Jorge Vela
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The authors did a great job in tackling a difficult problem, namely how to tackle poverty and create long-term economic and social prosperity. The Prosperity Paradox team's answer is simple, yet powerful: even if it sounds counterintuitive, enduring prosperity for less developed countries will not come from fixing poverty, but rather from investing in innovations that create new markets within these countries.

The book is effective in spelling out support for its thesis. Starting with the idea th
Rutuja Ramteke
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
💍The Prosperity Paradox By Clayton.M Christensen, Efosa Ojomo & Karren Dillon
💍Category: Socio-economic
💍Publisher: Harper Collins
Introduction: Global poverty is one of the world’s most vexing problems. For decades, we've assumed smart, well-intentioned people will eventually be able to change the economic trajectory of poor countries. Essentially, the plan is often to identify areas that need help, flood them with resources and hope to see change over time.
My Opinion: After alot of analysis I a
Elijah Elkins
Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just finished a genuinely transformative and perspective-shifting book called ‘The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty’ by Clayton Christensen, Efosa Ojomo, and Karen Dillon. They challenged many assumptions I had about the necessity of good governance and infrastructure prior to economic growth and development. They flipped the question from how to eliminate poverty to how to create prosperity. They came to the answer of market-creating innovations (MCIs).

If you'v
Feb 21, 2021 added it
"Knowledge, like air, is vital to life. Like air, no one should be denied it."
-Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

Being a student of social science opens the door in understanding the intricate balance between matter and mind. Our rational and irrational thoughts drive us in understanding global and local issues of time ago and ahead. Hence, research and published work on these themes attract me deeply. The current situation of my own country pushing me more to a deeper divulgence in the matters.

My intro
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is key principles that can contribute to economic development of a Country. Very relevant to India.

The book is both intellectually stimulating as well as emotionally inspiring. The author ( actually three of them bit lead by theClayton Christensen) describes case studies across multiple industries from various countries from 18th century America to 20 th century Mexico, Africa, India, Bangladesh , Brazil etc. to underscore the his theory . The industries range from Food, Transportatio
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Clayton M. Christensen is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, with a joint appointment in the Technology & Operations Management and General Management faculty groups. He is best known for his study of innovation in commercial enterprises. His first book, The Innovator's Dilemma, articulated his theory of disruptive technology.


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27 likes · 4 comments
“What could happen if we changed our emphasis from push to pull? What if much more of the $143 billion spent on official development assistance in 2016 was channeled to support direct market-creation efforts in poor countries, even when the circumstances seemed unlikely? Imagine how many markets could be created; imagine how many Tolarams, Nollywoods, M-PESAs, and other new-market creators could emerge; imagine how many jobs could be created. As I think about this problem, I can’t help but wonder how many fathers and mothers would be afforded the dignity of work and the resources to provide simple things for their families—like food, health care, and quality education. Imagine how many people would have a renewed sense of hope and purpose when they begin to see their suffering can become a thing of the past.” 1 likes
“definition of infrastructure as the most efficient mechanism through which a society stores or distributes value.” 1 likes
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