100 books like Innovation in Real Places

By Dan Breznitz,

Here are 100 books that Innovation in Real Places fans have personally recommended if you like Innovation in Real Places. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of VC: An American History

William H. Janeway Author Of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game between Markets, Speculators and the State

From my list on venture capital and the economics of innovation.

Why am I passionate about this?

After receiving my doctorate in Economics at Cambridge University, I embarked on a 35-year sabbatical as a venture capitalist focused on information technology. I learned about the critical role that the American state had played by sponsoring the computer industry. When the "Dotcom Bubble" of the late 1990s grossly overpriced my companies, because I had written my PhD thesis on 1929-1931 when the Bubble of the Roaring Twenties exploded, I had seen the movie before and knew how it ended. I returned to Cambridge determined to tell this saga of innovation at the frontier and the strategic roles played by financial speculation and the state in funding economic transformation."

William's book list on venture capital and the economics of innovation

William H. Janeway Why did William love this book?

I value this book as a comprehensive history of high-risk investing in America, from the Whaling Industry to Silicon Valley. 

Nicholas reveals the extraordinary skew and persistence in investment returns: a small number of investors are responsible for a disproportionate amount of the gains, and this holds true across widely varying institutional structures and technological domains.

And he explores the intimate relationship between the rise of the IT and Biotech industries and support from the U.S, Government. 

By Tom Nicholas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked VC as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A major exploration of venture financing, from its origins in the whaling industry to Silicon Valley, that shows how venture capital created an epicenter for the development of high-tech innovation.

VC tells the riveting story of how the industry arose from the United States' long-running orientation toward entrepreneurship. Venture capital has been driven from the start by the pull of outsized returns through a skewed distribution of payoffs-a faith in low-probability but substantial financial rewards that rarely materialize. Whether the gamble is a whaling voyage setting sail from New Bedford or the newest startup in Silicon Valley, VC is not…


Book cover of Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970

William H. Janeway Author Of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game between Markets, Speculators and the State

From my list on venture capital and the economics of innovation.

Why am I passionate about this?

After receiving my doctorate in Economics at Cambridge University, I embarked on a 35-year sabbatical as a venture capitalist focused on information technology. I learned about the critical role that the American state had played by sponsoring the computer industry. When the "Dotcom Bubble" of the late 1990s grossly overpriced my companies, because I had written my PhD thesis on 1929-1931 when the Bubble of the Roaring Twenties exploded, I had seen the movie before and knew how it ended. I returned to Cambridge determined to tell this saga of innovation at the frontier and the strategic roles played by financial speculation and the state in funding economic transformation."

William's book list on venture capital and the economics of innovation

William H. Janeway Why did William love this book?

I deeply appreciate the way that Lécuyer undermines the myth that a few genius entrepreneurs and venture capitalists invented Silicon Valley from nothing.

He documents the pre-history of Silicon Valley, showing how the “ham radio” operators of the early 20th Century found support from the U.S. Navy to build a micro-electronics industry in the San Francisco Bay Area before World War II. A skilled technical workforce was available when, partly by chance and partly through the initiative of Stanford’s Dean of Engineering, Frederick Terman (himself a radio engineer), the semiconductor industry found its home.

By Christophe Lecuyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Making Silicon Valley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Making Silicon Valley, Christophe Lécuyer shows that the explosive growth of the personal computer industry in Silicon Valley was the culmination of decades of growth and innovation in the San Francisco-area electronics industry. Using the tools of science and technology studies, he explores the formation of Silicon Valley as an industrial district, from its beginnings as the home of a few radio enterprises that operated in the shadow of RCA and other East Coast firms through its establishment as a center of the electronics industry and a leading producer of power grid tubes, microwave tubes, and semiconductors. He traces…


Book cover of The Power of Creative Destruction: Economic Upheaval and the Wealth of Nations

William H. Janeway Author Of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game between Markets, Speculators and the State

From my list on venture capital and the economics of innovation.

Why am I passionate about this?

After receiving my doctorate in Economics at Cambridge University, I embarked on a 35-year sabbatical as a venture capitalist focused on information technology. I learned about the critical role that the American state had played by sponsoring the computer industry. When the "Dotcom Bubble" of the late 1990s grossly overpriced my companies, because I had written my PhD thesis on 1929-1931 when the Bubble of the Roaring Twenties exploded, I had seen the movie before and knew how it ended. I returned to Cambridge determined to tell this saga of innovation at the frontier and the strategic roles played by financial speculation and the state in funding economic transformation."

William's book list on venture capital and the economics of innovation

William H. Janeway Why did William love this book?

Philippe Aghion has been one of the pioneers in the development of “Schumpeterian Growth Theory” to model the process of Creative Destruction” that drives technological innovation and economic growth. This is an accessible presentation of the dynamics of the model and the observable consequences in the real world.  

I have found it essential for teaching my course on Venture Capital and the Economics of Innovation.

By Philippe Aghion, Celine Antonin, Simon Bunel , Jodie Cohen-Tanugi (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Power of Creative Destruction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hayek Book Prize Finalist
An Economist Best Book of the Year
A Foreign Affairs Best Book of the Year
A Financial Times Summer Reading Favorite

"Sweeping, authoritative and-for the times-strikingly upbeat...The overall argument is compelling and...it carries a trace of Schumpeterian subversion."
-The Economist

"[An] important book...Lucid, empirically grounded, wide-ranging, and well-argued."
-Martin Wolf, Financial Times

"Offers...much needed insight into the sources of economic growth and the kinds of policies that will promote it...All in Washington would do well to read this volume carefully."
-Milton Ezrati, Forbes

Inequality is on the rise, growth stagnant, the environment in crisis. Covid seems…


Book cover of Ages of American Capitalism: A History of the United States

William H. Janeway Author Of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game between Markets, Speculators and the State

From my list on venture capital and the economics of innovation.

Why am I passionate about this?

After receiving my doctorate in Economics at Cambridge University, I embarked on a 35-year sabbatical as a venture capitalist focused on information technology. I learned about the critical role that the American state had played by sponsoring the computer industry. When the "Dotcom Bubble" of the late 1990s grossly overpriced my companies, because I had written my PhD thesis on 1929-1931 when the Bubble of the Roaring Twenties exploded, I had seen the movie before and knew how it ended. I returned to Cambridge determined to tell this saga of innovation at the frontier and the strategic roles played by financial speculation and the state in funding economic transformation."

William's book list on venture capital and the economics of innovation

William H. Janeway Why did William love this book?

Jon Levy provides a hugely creative account of American history through the evolution of its distinctive institution, capitalism.

He relates the unstable dynamics of financial markets to the waves of investment in real capital incorporating innovative technologies and never loses sight of the tension between power accumulated and expressed in markets and the distribution of political power, always attentive to how the former can take over control of the latter.

Levy’s work has enriched my own understanding of this contested history.

By Jonathan Levy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ages of American Capitalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A leading economic historian traces the evolution of American capitalism from the colonial era to the present—and argues that we’ve reached a turning point that will define the era ahead.

“A monumental achievement, sure to become a classic.”—Zachary D. Carter, author of The Price of Peace

In this ambitious single-volume history of the United States, economic historian Jonathan Levy reveals how capitalism in America has evolved through four distinct ages and how the country’s economic evolution is inseparable from the nature of American life itself. The Age of Commerce spans the colonial era through the outbreak of the Civil War,…


Book cover of The New Geography of Jobs

Dietrich Vollrath Author Of Fully Grown: Why a Stagnant Economy Is a Sign of Success

From my list on the economic challenges of the 2020s.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of economics at the University of Houston, with a focus on long-run growth and development rather than things like quarterly stock returns. I write a blog on growth economics where I try hard to boil down technical topics to their core intuition, and I’m the co-author of a popular textbook on economic growth.

Dietrich's book list on the economic challenges of the 2020s

Dietrich Vollrath Why did Dietrich love this book?

Moretti’s book is, I think, woefully underappreciated. He gives a clear portrait of different regions of the United States, classifying them on the basis of their current economic structure and not on a predetermined political split or on industrial classifications from fifty years ago. It shows that we are in the midst of a substantial economic transformation that likely rivals the shifts seen during the early industrial revolution. This book gives you a real sense of what a “knowledge economy” will look like. More than that, though, he shows how that transformation could be beneficial to everyone (but might not).

By Enrico Moretti,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The New Geography of Jobs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The New Geography of Jobs, award-winning Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti looks at the major shifts taking place in the US economy and reveals the surprising winners and losers ​— ​specifically, which kinds of jobs will drive economic growth and where they’ll be located ​— ​while exploring how communities can transform themselves into dynamic innovation hubs.

“A timely and smart discussion of how different cities and regions have made a changing economy work for them ​— ​and how policymakers can learn from that to lift the circumstances of working Americans everywhere.” ​— ​Barack Obama

We’re used to thinking of the…


Book cover of Grassroots Innovation: Minds On The Margin Are Not Marginal Minds

Dinesh C. Sharma Author Of The Outsourcer: The Story of India's IT Revolution

From my list on the history of modern India.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a journalist who has strayed into book writing with a particular interest in the history of post-independent and contemporary India. My interest in this subject developed as an offshoot of reporting on landmark changes during the period of economic liberalization in the 1990s. One of the astounding stories of this period was the rise of the technology industry and the outsourcing business. A deeper study of this took me back to the period of independence in 1947 and decades before it.  

Dinesh's book list on the history of modern India

Dinesh C. Sharma Why did Dinesh love this book?

The discourse on modern India is often about achievements in science and technology, R&D in national laboratories, and industry. However, in a country of one billion plus people, innovation is happening not just in formal sectors. Ordinary people – farmers, teachers, students, artisans, school dropouts, homemakers – are constantly innovating to solve everyday problems using frugal means. The book is an account of spotting grassroots innovations, nurturing them, and building networks with formal systems and markets. It is critical to understand this process for a deeper appreciation of contemporary India. 

By Anil K. Gupta,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Grassroots Innovation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A moral dilemma gripped Anil K. Gupta when he was invited by the Bangladeshi government to help restructure their agricultural on-farm research sector in 1985. He noticed how the marginalized farmers were being paid poorly for their otherwise unmatched knowledge. The gross injustice of this constant imbalance led Gupta to found what would turn into a resounding social and ethical movement-the Honey Bee Network-bringing together and elevating thousands of grassroots innovators.
For over two decades, Gupta has travelled through rural lands, along with hundreds of volunteers of the Network, unearthing innovations by the ranks-from the famed Mitti Cool refrigerator to…


Book cover of Economic Transformations: General Purpose Technologies and Long-Term Economic Growth

Richard G. Lipsey Author Of Industrial Policy: The Coevolution of Public and Private Sources of Finance for Important Emerging and Evolving Technologies

From my list on how private and public sector enterprises.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over my lifetime I have been involved in myriad policy issues running from 1970s anti-inflation policies, through the creation of NAFTA in the 1980s, to dealing with climate change in the 2000s. My interest and that of my co-author in technological change and economic growth entailed involvement in innovation policy. We are particularly worried because many citizens have no realisation of the important part that public policy has played in technological changes. Ignorance of this is dangerous in that it may lead legislatures to inhibit the public sector’s future role in such developments without which we have a much-diminished chance of dealing with climate change and holding our own in international economic competition.

Richard's book list on how private and public sector enterprises

Richard G. Lipsey Why did Richard love this book?

While all the books listed earlier provide detailed, in-depth, case studies of public-private sector cooperation in developing selected new technologies, the last two chapters of this book provide necessarily brief coverages of the myriad ways in which this cooperation had been successfully manifested beyond encouraging specific technologies.

Although the book’s main purpose is to show how a series of important technologies have transformed economic, social, and political life over the millennia, the last two chapters show how knowledge of these transformations sheds light on the wider use of public policy to achieve economic goals.

While many public initiatives have succeeded, others have failed. The authors isolate the reasons for these successes and failures and offer their template for designing and administering policies that are more likely to succeed than fail.

By Richard G. Lipsey, Kenneth I. Carlaw, Clifford T. Bekar

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Economic Transformations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book examines the long term economic growth that has raised the West's material living standards to levels undreamed of by counterparts in any previous time or place. The authors argue that this growth has been driven by technological revolutions that have periodically transformed the West's economic, social and political landscape over the last 10,000 years and allowed the West to become, until recently, the world's only dominant technological force.

Unique in the diversity of the analytical techniques used, the book begins with a discussion of the causes and consequences of economic growth and technological change. The authors argue that…


Book cover of Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future

Bryce G. Hoffman Author Of American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company

From my list on thinking leaders.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a bestselling business author, top-rated leadership speaker, and unconsultant who helps individuals and organizations think more critically, lead more effectively, and make better decisions. Prior to writing American Icon, I spent 20 years as a business reporter, covering the high-tech, biotech, and automotive industries for newspapers in California and Michigan. After that, I quit my job in order to help CEOs understand and implement the game-changing leadership I described in it. In 2017, I published my second book, Red Teaming: How Your Business Can Conquer the Competition by Challenging Everything and started my own company, Red Team Thinking, to train organizations in this revolutionary approach to decision-making because I believe that who thinks wins.

Bryce's book list on thinking leaders

Bryce G. Hoffman Why did Bryce love this book?

If you read one book on AI, make sure it is this one. Machine, Platform, Crowd cuts through the hype and science fiction that surrounds the artificial intelligence revolution to uncover the real opportunities created by this rapidly evolving technology. This book has shaped my own thinking about AI, which I now see as a force multiplier for human decision-makers, rather than as a replacement for them. It will help you better understand the challenges and opportunities this creates for you and your organization as well.

By Andrew McAfee, Erik Brynjolfsson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Machine, Platform, Crowd as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We live in strange times. A machine plays the strategy game Go better than any human; upstarts like Apple and Google destroy industry stalwarts such as Nokia; ideas from the crowd are repeatedly more innovative than those from corporate research laboratories.

Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson know what it takes to master this digital-powered shift: we must rethink the integration of minds and machines, of products and platforms, and of the core and the crowd. The balance now favours the second element of the pair, with massive implications for how we run our companies and live our lives. McAfee and…


Book cover of The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

Ashley Recanati Author Of AI Battle Royale: How to Protect Your Job from Disruption in the 4th Industrial Revolution

From my list on AI and the future of work.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have over 2 decades of finance control and general management experience spanning the manufacturing and retail sectors, in big names like LVMH. A finance controller’s job is all about efficiency and involves learning every new tool available that can help to achieve that goal. Through this work, I realized how many people are not ready for the tidal wave of disruption about to hit employees with AI and other technological changes. I was utterly shocked at not being able to find a single sensible guidebook with solutions actionable by workers.

Ashley's book list on AI and the future of work

Ashley Recanati Why did Ashley love this book?

The first comprehensive book on new tech and its impacts, following big steps made in AI progress in the early 2010s. The authors bring home the point that we are undergoing a watershed moment as tools no longer substitute merely for physical labor encroach on mental tasks – hence the book’s title.

After centuries of fleeing blue-collar jobs to take refuge in cerebral work, we are being left with nowhere to run. Not only that, but past technology would automate a given task, whereas the looming Artificial Intelligence is bound to intervene in many, many tasks currently handled by humans.

By Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Second Machine Age as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In recent years, computers have learned to diagnose diseases, drive cars, write clean prose and win game shows. Advances like these have created unprecedented economic bounty but in their wake median income has stagnated and employment levels have fallen. Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee reveal the technological forces driving this reinvention of the economy and chart a path towards future prosperity. Businesses and individuals, they argue, must learn to race with machines. Drawing on years of research, Brynjolfsson and McAfee identify the best strategies and policies for doing so. A fundamentally optimistic book, The Second Machine Age will radically alter…


Book cover of A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy

Alex Mesoudi Author Of Cultural Evolution: How Darwinian Theory Can Explain Human Culture and Synthesize the Social Sciences

From my list on cultural evolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Professor of Cultural Evolution at the University of Exeter, UK. In my research I use lab experiments and theoretical models to understand how human culture evolves. Since my undergraduate psychology degree I have always been attracted to big ideas about how evolution has shaped human minds. Yet evolutionary psychology, with its stone age brains frozen in time, seemed unsatisfying. This led me to cultural evolution, with its grand idea that the same evolutionary process underlies both genetic and cultural change. Humans are not just products of countless generations of genetic evolution, but also of cultural evolution. This view of humanity is grander than any other I’ve come across.

Alex's book list on cultural evolution

Alex Mesoudi Why did Alex love this book?

I’ve included this book to illustrate how the perspective of cultural evolution is spreading to disciplines and problems far beyond its origins in biology and anthropology. In this case the discipline is economic history and the problem is explaining why the Enlightenment, which paved the way for the rapid technological and economic transformations brought about by the subsequent Industrial Revolution, occurred when it did (1500-1700) and where it did (Western Europe). Mokyr’s answer draws on cultural evolutionary concepts to argue that a culturally transmitted mindset of innovation and progress, as well as the intense competition of ideas within a politically fragmented Europe, led to rapid scientific advances. Essential reading for anyone interested in the origins of the modern world.

By Joel Mokyr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Culture of Growth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why Enlightenment culture sparked the Industrial Revolution

During the late eighteenth century, innovations in Europe triggered the Industrial Revolution and the sustained economic progress that spread across the globe. While much has been made of the details of the Industrial Revolution, what remains a mystery is why it took place at all. Why did this revolution begin in the West and not elsewhere, and why did it continue, leading to today's unprecedented prosperity? In this groundbreaking book, celebrated economic historian Joel Mokyr argues that a culture of growth specific to early modern Europe and the European Enlightenment laid the foundations…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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