The Knowledge Economy

Robert D. Atkinson March 19, 2019
March 19, 2019

As Rob Atkinson writes in a book review for the New York Journal of Books, "The Knowledge Economy" by Roberto Unger has a worthwhile goal but suffers from fundamental flaws. To be sure, some of his ideas, like more government funding for equity capital for startups, and more technical assistance to help companies adopt knowledge economy practices, make sense and deserve to be expanded. But he provides no evidence as to why most of his prescriptions would make the economic patient any better. And ignoring the fact that Unger never bothers to even define the knowledge economy—What kind of sectors, firms and work does it entail?—he provides no evidence or even logic of how the so-called knowledge economy could infuse all sectors and economies of the world. Nor does Unger provide any evidence or logic as to why his reforms would lead to inclusive vanguardism. 

It is all too common for economic commentators to theorize from their own experience, and one suspects this is the case with Unger. Platitudes about vitality don’t get at the real solutions nations need. It’s much easier to attack capitalism itself than to do the hard, difficult and painful work on looking within a country to acknowledge failures and work for the right kind of needed reforms.