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Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  353 ratings  ·  54 reviews
The extraordinary efforts that took mankind to the moon 50 years ago were more than a scientific feat of aeronautics. They required new forms of collaboration between the public sector (notably, NASA) and private companies. This book asks: what if the same level of boldness - the boldness that set inspirational goals, took risks and explicitly recognized that this requires ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 28th 2021 by Allen Lane (first published September 8th 2020)
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David Wineberg
Feb 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
We had it and we lost it. According to Mariana Mazzucato, the USA showed precisely how to energize and motivate an entire country and its economy in the 1960s. Today’s USA shows no signs whatsoever of that spirit. It is everyone for themselves, and public institutions have become liabilities instead of levers. Mazzucato’s The Mission Economy is a delightfully positive, thoroughly thought through, universal solution to what ails capitalism. It is an object lesson in solutions hiding in plain sigh ...more
Nick Lucarelli
Apr 25, 2021 rated it liked it
More of an orbit around the stratosphere than a flight to the moon.

Starts off with a weird pro-socialist/Marxist dig at modern day capitalism that has elements of truth. She paints the government as an unheralded innovator that doesn't benefit from its successes in private investment (eg Tesla) but is left to bail out its failures; the private industry as exploiting workers by paying each other and not their workers (a masked argument for paying workers in shares); and civil servants as being u
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Mission Economy suggests an ambitious, bold and progressive way of tackling major global challenges of the 21st century. Its central idea is that governments should actively shape markets in order to meet challenges such as climate crisis: setting clear goals and instigating public-private partnerships that encourage innovation, risk taking and collaboration for the good of society as a whole. Mazzucato uses the Apollo program to illustrate how this approach would work. The mission – i.e. sendin ...more
Debbie Notkin
May 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book starts out almost intolerably optimistic: Mazzucato wants to save capitalism by making it equitable, balanced, and participatory (sure, no problem!). As we read on, we discover that she actually has some credit in this arena, that she has worked with major governments on her concept of "missions," and that some of her ideas are being implemented in significant ways. I would have preferred for her to set that stage at the start, so I didn't feel like I was wasting my time on impossibili ...more
Richard Marney
May 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
A fresh look at the intractable challenge of making government a catalytic agent for innovation and progress, not a bystander and Mr. Fixit when things go wrong. The author brings a unique combination of academic research pedigree and practical experience advising the public and the private sector to the debate and this book.

The American Apollo moon mission is used as the book’s central case study. Create a vision, set a goal, and work towards it. Government led an effective partnership with the
Peter Timson
Mar 17, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. Don't like "moonshot" bit about the subtitle but I suppose it helps get attention: but maybe to something that's too distant for many.

The idea of a "mission" approach is the real point though and so much better than using the phrase "war on..." or although the total nature of the two world wars is probably somewhere on the think that's needed.

It possibly talks most to the already converted and I hope it makes some progress against the ca. third of the population (maybe around hal
Gregory Cornelius
Feb 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Mariana Mazzucato's thesis is that capitalism as we know it now has some challenges - which are well understood I think - and that government has fallen into a self-limiting role doing little more than tinkering with economic regulations, and that's no longer enough, when we need a war footing to tackle the grand challenges of our age such as climate crisis. Mazzucato believes in rethinking government for the twenty first century in order to reshape capitalism. That's a proposition I agree with. ...more
David Snower
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
We baby boomers experienced (cognizant of the phenomenon or not) the cultural norms and the kind of community purpose that animated the 1960's space/Apollo program (and put humans on the moon) morph or shift or devolve, in our lifetimes, as Mazzucato suggests, "from community obligations to individual rights." Against that backdrop, Mazzucato's pitch is that we (desperately) need to rethink capitalism (and, for that matter, economics), such that we get "the economy to work for societal goals, ra ...more
Apr 18, 2021 rated it liked it
A continuation of Mazzucato’s thesis that government should be framed as an active co-creator and stakeholder in projects that should be considered on a portfolio basis - with the consequent overall risks and rewards. This book is perhaps a more refined version of that thesis.

The charismatic Director of University College London’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, Mazzucato has spoken frequently on the subject, particularly accessibly on Zoom in this pandemic. Much of what you may hav
Hanie Noor
Apr 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Mission Economy
by Mariana Mazzucato
Behind the scene of space exploration✔️ Rethinking economic theories & myth✔️ SDGs, aligning ambitious visions with bold possible solutions✔️

▪️a giant leap (describing huge effort and lofty goal)
▪️an act of launching spacecraft to the moon

Is capitalism broken?
Varoufakis et al., (2020) did mention that capitalism is ending because it’s obsolete. Disadvantages resurfaced more often than merit & capital is being socially produced while the returns are
May 10, 2021 rated it did not like it
I had to read this book for an assignment - and it turned out the most disappointing thing since Stephanie Kelton's "The Deficit Myth". However, there is a really interesting set of ideas at the basis of the book - they can be roughly structured in 5 core theses:

Thesis 1: There are complex societal problems (i.e. problems affecting the entire society), which "require (...) social, organizational and political innovation." They must be solved by "getting the public and private sector to truly col
Sebastian Gebski
Apr 17, 2021 rated it liked it
This book is mainly about how governments can cooperate in modern business to evolve capitalism for everyone's benefit. 'Cooperate', not 'support' as Mazzucato claims that govt role is not just to eliminate the obstacles, but also possibly to add value.

Apart from the theory itself, it's not a very good book - when it comes to the author's writing skills. Even if I was honestly interested in the topic and picked the book voluntarily I struggled to keep myself engaged as the book felt monotonous a
May 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2021
I want Mariana Mazzucato to take over all governments.

Here she builds further upon on her vision that governments should take on more risk, and steer markets and the private sector into directions that serve the common good, and NOT simply exist to fix market mistakes.

She lists the many ways our economies are broken today, and advocates that we need to restructure governments around more mission-oriented thinking. The prime example of a big mission-oriented government-led success is the decade
Michael Duyvesteijn
May 30, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook
I will happily agree, that I may not have consumed the content of this book properly, as I was listening to it. Digesting a book like this, was probably better done by reading.

That being said, I find some flaws in the Mission Economy. The whole narrative is around the moon landing and how that serves as the epitome for how a government should run a mission driven project. Besides that a good part of the book is unnecessarily spent on retelling the successes of NASA, it is just one example for ju
Jun 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is the book anyone and everyone needs to read if you are involved with or have interest in affecting systems change towards a regenerative circular economy. Powerful, engaging and practical in takeaways for the now urgent shift we need in the way we define economic success and growth measures, how the public and private sector can work together to redefine the purpose of government and capitalism in ways that create value for ALL. Great insight into new approaches to developing policy and a ...more
Apr 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
I’m a fan of the Sway podcast from the New York Times, so when I heard host Kara Swisher recently introduce Mariana Mazzucato as the economist that the pope, Bill Gates, and AOC turn to these days for advice on how to reimagine a more equitable capitalist society, I was intrigued. I focused intently on their conversation, which sounded like a radical departure from economic norms. For me, the most important message of this book is that government has and continues to be our best solution to the ...more
Mar 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
I'm a new fan and look forward to read her other works. In short, I largely agree with this book and how government should play role. But, I finished this book rather quick so I might miss it. There is big hope and belief in the government in this book, but the current practice she is criticizing has been embedded to deep. The public sector is now too weak and in getting where Mariana expects them to be will require a really strong political will and heavy lifting to build the internal capacity. ...more
Apr 30, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mazzucato lays out a very strong thesis which is a continuation of her earlier work in arguing for stronger centralized objectives, “using the idea of public purpose to guide policy and business activity”. She centers this around the events of the moon shot which is of course a prime example of a success story. Along the way she shows how government often offloads work to consultants and sub-contractors and that this is actually much more expensive and wasteful. This is all a lot of preaching to ...more
May 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Makes salient, timely, and coherent points about how we might reframe (and redesign) the way government and the economy works in order to tackle “wicked problems”.

The author clearly has a firm theoretical grasp and practical expertise of her subject matter, which is reflected in her breadth of examples and citations. However, the author also tends to repeat herself and the book is scant on detail.

This book could pack more a punch if it was instead a series of blog posts or Twitter threads. Or i
Robert D
Apr 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What a timely book! We are certainly at an inflexan point as we come out of the pandemic and begin to rebuild our infrastructure. If the President could sell the process as a mission, I think it would be much more sellable. Mariana Mazzucato book presents many ways that could be used to produce an economy that works for a much greater share of the population, working to improve public investment to work for all to improve our way of life.
I will return to rewrite this a little later as it dos no
Apr 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
Spot-on critique of hunger games capitalism, lack of systems-level public policy, and attendant economic development/tax regimes. However, Mazzucato’s solutions ignore the many failures of 20th century industrial policy, and presume the existence of the political realignment necessary to support such a societal reboot. It’s telling that the author’s foundational example is a Cold War response to Soviet manned space flight. To align US society to support a modern day equivalent, you’d need an exi ...more
Zoltan Pogatsa
Apr 18, 2021 rated it liked it
If you have read Mazzucato's previous books, there is not that much new in this one. She basically argues for active state industrial policy and leadership, but her previous books do this better. She takes the example of the US space programme - hence the title. But she seems to suggest that what is missing is good policy. Which is so nineties. Sooner or later she will have to come to terms with the fact that the denial of an active state is a matter of political economy, not missing policy. ...more
Istók Róbert
Apr 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
As a millennial, who did not witness the innovative power of governments, this book was a refreshing view that the public sector is responsible for some of the biggest inventions that we take for granted.

But nowadays it feels the opposite, and that is one reason why people are losing trust in governments all around the world. The question is if they are able to return to their former strengths?
Juan Farfán
Mar 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
If we want to solve the global problems of our time the public sector must lead and expand the frontiers of the possible. Mazzucato shows how. And let’s be clear this transformation needs the innovation and resources of the private sector. For public policy practitioners the book is not as detailed as you wish but it’s a great read
Lisa Wright
Apr 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can capitalism be saved? Mazzucato makes the case that it can, indeed, be saved, fixed, transformed into something that serves all of us. Using the Apollo moonshot as an example, she shows how what is needed is a mission and a will. And as with Apollo, a well-defined mission will inevitably lead to innovation and invention. Extremely readable. I loved it.
Pete Walton
Apr 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Thought provoking with well articulated arguments for reshaping government involvement when it comes to innovation. I found the book to very data focused and example heavy in its recommendations, which challenged many of my current beliefs. I'm not convinced of the entire vision, but many of the idea are practical and detailed enough to make sense. ...more
Robert Bresnahan
A blueprint for a sustainable future worth striving for.

Mazzucato courageously outlines what we must do to make a society worth living in. She draws on our successes in the New Deal era and the Kennedy moon shot to show how government is essential to overcome the monumental problems we face, most of which are of our own making. A truly inspiring book. Thank you Marianna!
Feb 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What's not to like. A book on economics using the Apollo missions as a guide to how to put an economy to work. I love the idea of adopting a central mission for an economy and putting everyone to work on achieving it. ...more
Martine Delannoy
Mar 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Anybody that has any type of link to government or living on planet earth should read this book.
Mariana manages to combine concrete practical examples with innovative ideas in a convincing way. I hope this book contributes to making the world a better place.
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Mariana Mazzucato is an economist with dual Italian and United States citizenship. She is a professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value and the director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London (UCL) and the RM Phillips Chair in the Economics of Innovation at the University of Sussex. She is also a member of the Scottish Government's Council of ...more

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“Kennedy was clear that the Apollo project would cost a lot of money – and it did. And while he and NASA had to constantly defend the use of the budget, in the end the pressure and urgency to ‘beat the Russians’ made the money come through. Indeed, the urgency to win is why money is always available for wartime missions – whether in the world wars or Vietnam or Iraq. Money seems to be created for this purpose. There is no reason why a ‘whatever it takes’ mentality cannot be used for social problems. Yet the conventional approach is to assume that budgets are fixed, and so if money is spent in one area, it will be at the expense of another area. For example, if you want new energy infrastructure, you can’t have new hospitals as well. But what if budgets were based on outcomes to be reached, as they were for the moon landing and in wars? What if the first question is not ‘Can we afford it?’ but ‘What do we really want to do? And how do we create the resources required to realize the mission?” 1 likes
“We must create more effective interfaces with innovations across the whole of society; rethink how policies are designed; change how intellectual property regimes are governed; and use R& D to distribute intelligence across academia, government, business and civil society. This means restoring public purpose in policies so that they are aimed at creating tangible benefits for citizens and setting goals that matter to people–driven by public-interest considerations rather than profit.” 0 likes
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