BOSTON — Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction (The Belknap Press, 2007), by Thomas McCraw, the Isidor Straus Professor of Business History Emeritus at Harvard Business School, has been selected by the History of Economics Society as the winner of the Joseph J. Spengler Award for "Best Book in History of Economics" for 2007.
The honor will be awarded at the 35th annual conference of the History of Economic Society in June 2008, at York University, in Toronto.
Prophet of Innovation is the biography of Harvard Professor Joseph A. Schumpeter (1883 -1950), who made his mark as the prophet of incessant change and is arguably one of the most significant economists and business theorists of the past century.
McCraw's book chronicles Schumpter's tumultuous life spanning two world wars, the Great Depression, and the early Cold War. Drawing on all of Schumpeter's writings, including many private intimate diaries and letters never before used, McCraw paints the full portrait of a magnetic figure.
As the biography details, Schumpeter regarded "creative destruction" as the driving force of capitalism. In short, it stated that nearly all businesses fail, victims of innovation by their competitors. Businesspeople ignore this lesson at their peril; to survive, they must be entrepreneurial and think strategically. In Schumpeter's view, the general prosperity produced by the "capitalist engine" far outweighs the wreckage it leaves behind.
Read the HBS Alumni Bulletin's review of Prophet of Innovation: http://www.alumni.hbs.edu/bulletin/2007/june/schumpeter.html
Additional information about the Joseph J. Spengler Prize can be found here: http://historyofeconomics.org/awards/bookaward.htm
About Thomas McCraw
In addition to Prophet of Innovation, McCraw has written or co-authored a number of books, including American Business, 1920-2000: How It Worked (2000), The Intellectual Venture Capitalist: John H. McArthur and the Work of the Harvard Business School (1999), and Creating Modern Capitalism: How Entrepreneurs, Companies, and Countries Triumphed in Three Industrial Revolutions (1997). His book Morgan Versus Lilienthal: The Feud Within the TVA (1970) won the William P. Lyons Award. Prophets of Regulation: Charles Francis Adams, Louis D. Brandeis, James M. Landis, Alfred E. Kahn (1984) won both the Pulitzer Prize for history and the Thomas Newcomen Award, which is given for the best book on the history of business published over a three-year period. At Harvard Business School, McCraw served as a Director of Research (1984-86) and chair and co-chair of the Business, Government, and the International Economy Unit (1986-97). He was associate editor of The Encyclopedia of the United States in the Twentieth Century (1996), and has been a member of the Council of the Massachusetts Historical Society, the advisory board of the Nomura School of Advanced Management (Tokyo), the editorial board of Reviews in American History, and the Board of Syndics of Harvard University Press. He has also served as president and trustee of the Business History Conference. He became Straus Professor of Business History, Emeritus in July 2006.