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

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  415 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Clayton M. Christensen, the author of such business classics as The Innovator’s Dilemma and theNew 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 is
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 ...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
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
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 ...more
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.
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
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,
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 ...more
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 ...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.
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
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 ...more
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Jim Milway
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like several other books that have taken a hard look at how to address third world poverty, this one shows how our current efforts are misdirected. Stop thinking about how we can rescue people from poverty; start looking for innovations and market opportunities in these economies. He use the push/pull metaphor a lot. Pushing infrastructure that doesn't have a strong pent-up demand typically means highways and ports that end up in disrepair. Or building shiny new schools without motivated ...more
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Upfront, I am beyond a fan of Clayton Christensen, his body of work, and even more his personal example of life well lead through honest service-oriented pursuits and continual demonstration of true character through his own learning as he has navigated through life's challenges and perfect opportunities for growth and learning while helping others do the same. It would be an honor or to meet and thank him personally should the opportunity arise.

That said, I appreciated The Prosperity Paradox
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
BOOK NAME - The Prosperity Paradox
AUTHOR NAME - Clayton M. Christensen, Efosa Ojomo and Karen Dillon
PUBLISHED BY - HarperCollins publishers
GENRE - Non - fiction (business/economics)

Poverty is a worldwide problem, not only it affects third world countries but also overall economy. Everyone has different views on how to eradicate it but is just eradication a solution? What about creating long lasting prosperity? This book talks about the same thing through logical arguments and
Minh Le
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mr. Christensen offers a fresh view on how countries, especially poor ones, could encourage market-creating innovations to be prosperous. He offers plenty of examples about how innovations have helped lift countries such as South Korea and the United States out of poverty. I particularly enjoy the chapter about infrastructure and corruption.

If you're reading this book and think that creating markets will help all third world countries become richer, you are most likely to be disappointed. Mr.
Kenneth Kinyanjui
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: entrepreneurship
Great read on how to think and approach development, innovation in emerging markets. The book achieved its goal.

The general thesis on focusing on prosperity rather than poverty eradication is bound to rewire your mind into the building or initiating of efforts that will create value in such markets. As a native of an emerging market, I would recommend anyone thinking about doing anything in Africa to grab a copy and read this book. You will thank me later.

My favourite parts of the books were
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clever ideas as always

It’s been a long time since I read one of Christianson’s books. This one has some really good ideas. I’ve often wondered why some countries stay poor even when they have a wealth of resources. I believed it was cultural, but I think I may be wrong. The South Korea example is perfect. They created prosperity through their choice of markets. Countries that focus on infrastructure and aid never seem to improve. We see the same thing in our cities. What if they focused on
Abdulrazaq Balogun
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Topics were carefully analyzed with details references,

This should be part of an Entrepreneurial guideline, Government need to start consulting with a promising organization as to how they both can collaborate and create a prosperous future, It's Obvious most poor countries are of the opinion Govt should be held fully accountable for Job creation and infrastructural development, this book is an eye-opener it's recommended for everyone who is interested in either private or public Governance
Oscar Romero
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school, favorites, work
An amazing insight into what makes an economy function....and so many and so clear explanations as to why, some undeveloped countries are stil struggling to get on their feet...Mexico being one of them. And of course-to me, the most important one.
I wonder why is it that we are not more willing to give this approach a chance and try it---it has work for so any other countries already.

Strongly recommended for everyone but more if you are a citizen of an under-developed country...or a not yet
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book not as a compendium of rigorous, data-backed case studies, but rather as a series of compelling anecdotes that can spark a reframing of how we approach global development. I believe the authors say as much in the book—this is meant to start a conversation. There are a number of beautiful stories about brilliant innovations that created significant markets, pulling nations out of poverty in the process. I hope data-driven practitioners, researchers, entrepreneurs, and governments ...more
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book overturns the orthodoxy conveyed by development experts and policymakers over the past 75 years or so. It will not make for comfortable reading in certain Bretton Woods institutions and large influential foundations. The evidence was always there but it was wilfully ignored acknowledging it would remove their raison d'être. Hopefully, this book will be the beginnings of a pushback against ruinous policies for most of Africa and other areas in the developing world
Gabe Wood
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A really solid read. The summary is that market-creating innovations are what drives a country to prosperity. It was interesting to hear about how the US was just as crappy of a place as many of the poor countries that we think of today as never being able to escape their poverty trap, and how it didn't look so bright for America either, but simply due to the many innovations that happened here... we pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps.
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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.

“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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