Joseph Schumpeter (1883–1950) is one of the most fascinating and influential economists of the twentieth century, renowned for his brilliant and unorthodox insights into the nature of capitalism. His students include leading economists such as Paul Samuelson, Robert Solow and the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan.
The Theory of Economic Development is one of Schumpeter's most important books and the one that made him famous. He poses a fundamental question: why does economic development proceed cyclically rather than evenly? Turning prevailing economic theory, which approached economics as equilibrium, on its head, Schumpeter argues it is because economics is constantly transformed by its own internal forces. These forces are the 'circular flow' of economic life; economic development, characterised by disruption and innovation; and finally, the levers that push and pull capitalism including credit, profit and interest. These are all manifested in the ‘business cycle’, one of Schumpeter's major contributions to understanding economics and now a perennial feature of virtually all economics and business curricula. He is also the first economist to place the entrepreneur at the heart of capitalism, anticipating subsequent fascination with entrepreneurship in popular business and management writing. Schumpeter also lays the groundwork for his subsequent, highly influential idea of the 'creative destruction' characteristic of radical and rapid economic change.
The Theory of Economic Development remains a vital, magisterial account of economics and the nature of capitalism whose many insights remain highly relevant today.
This Routledge Classics edition includes a new Introduction by Richard Swedberg.