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The Future of Economic Growth

As New Becomes Old

Robert Boyer

In this book, Robert Boyer follows the origins, course and collapse of the ‘new economy’ and proposes a new interpretation of US dynamism during the 1990s. He argues that the diffusion of information and communication technologies is only part of a story that also requires understanding of the transformation of the financial system, the reorganization of the management of firms and the emergence of a new policy mix. The book includes a long-term retrospective analysis of technological innovation, and an international comparison of OECD countries delivers an unconventional and critical assessment of the hope and the hype of the ‘new economy’.
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Chapter 5: The Geography of the ‘New Economy’: The Diversity of Institutional Architectures

Robert Boyer


INTRODUCTION How should we proceed with an explanation of the economic and institutional determinants of membership in a virtuous circle of growth? Three methods would seem to be useful. The first consists of a sectoral analysis or better still a study of panel data for firms. Bear in mind that several analyses have confirmed the discriminatory role of ICT implementation wherever it has been associated with a flatter corporate hierarchy (Askénazy, 2002; Chapters 3 and 4 in the present book). The second method consists of developing theoretical models, built on microeconomic foundations. These provide the basis on which to determine whether a conjunction of two particular institutions can induce companies to make organizational choices which are complementary, that is perform better as a consequence (Amable et al., 2000a, 2000b). Given the technical and, as yet, exploratory nature of this approach, it is not one that will be pursued at present. A much simpler, and more illuminating, method consists of carrying out a systematic international comparison, thus answering a series of three important questions. Was the United States the only country to have entered a virtuous circle of growth during the latter half of the 1990s? Is intensive utilization, or production, of informational goods a necessary precondition for membership in such a regime? And if other countries share this trait with the United States, do they display the same institutions and forms of organization, or are there substantial differences between them? ICT AT THE HEART OF THE TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE PROCESS...

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