Progress without Poverty: Socially Responsible Economic Growth

By Peter S. Albin | Go to book overview

4
The Unbalanced Effects
of Growth

IN the foreground of our picture of the U.S. economy is the progressive sector, a complex of activities which are associated either directly or indirectly with market-dominating firms and which are characterized by patterns of investment, product development, research, and management that result in significant technical change and productivity increase. The progressive sector is essentially oriented toward growth; but given the haphazard nature of stabilization policies in the U.S. economy, the actual rate of growth for the sector as a whole may vary from one year to another. The propensity to encourage growth and productivity change will also vary from enterprise to enterprise within the sector. For example, firms at the leading edge of the semi-conductor industry have registered amazing increases in productivity, while other firms have been more passive as generators of technological advance and have received less spectacular gains—secondhand, as it were. Regardless of these variations, the resemblances among these firms, particularly in those characteristics which foster adaptation to change and to prospects of growth, set the sector in bold relief against the background activity (and inactivity) which exhibits negligible productivity change. 1 We have already seen how certain enterprise behaviors within the progressive sector tend to promote technical styles which strongly favor the sector itself and we will examine variations on these phenomena again and again during the course of the book. The issue for now is somewhat different and concerns the manner in which the growth of the progressive sector generates trends

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