Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

The Art of Economic Catch-Up
Barriers, Detours and Leapfrogging in Innovation Systems


  • Author: Keun Lee, Seoul National University
  • Date Published: May 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108460705

£ 22.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • In his previous Schumpeter Prize-winning work, Lee analysed the 'middle-income trap', in which a developing country grows strongly only to plateau at a certain point. Yet certain developing countries, most significantly China, have managed to escape this trap. Building on the conception of the ladder from developing to developed countries being kicked way, this book suggests alternative ways, such as 'leapfrogging', in which latecomers can catch up with their forerunners. Providing policy solutions for development challenges in non-technical terms, Lee frames his theories with insightful and inventive allegories. In doing so, Lee also accounts for the catch-up paradox, in which one cannot conclusively catch-up if they are continually trying to follow the path of those ahead. He argues that eventual catch-up and overtaking require pursuing a path that differs from that taken by forerunners. This highly original and accessible book will appeal to students, scholars, practitioners, and anyone interested in economic development and innovation.

    • Includes accessible, non-technical explanations
    • Contains inventively conveyed, highly original theories
    • Presents incisive analysis of economic problems in developing/emerging countries
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Economists and policy makers all over the world are eager to understand better the remarkable technological and economic development of Korea, Taiwan, and more recently China from poor backward economies to economies supporting a number of world class sophisticated industries. In my view the writings over the past decade of Keun Lee have provided great illumination regarding how this progress has been achieved. This book provides a coherent and accessible review of his analyses and takes it further to consider how these countries have been able to reach the technological and economic frontiers despite increasing resistance from firms and countries who have not welcomed this new competition. This book is essential reading for those interested in economic development.' Richard R. Nelson, Columbia University

    'A world expert on how developing countries catch up developed ones, Professor Keun Lee has now written an accessible and important book about the strategies developing countries can use to overcome the barriers they face. This is a must-have book for both policy-makers and businessmen in developing countries.' David Sainsbury, Former Minster of Science and Innovation, UK Government

    'Only a few middle-income economies have been able to cross the hurdle to reach high-income status since the end of World War II. Drawing from the experiences of those few economies, the book not only identifies the key for the success is to sustain dynamic, technological innovation but also provides practical advice to the enterprises and the government in a middle-income economy about how to do it. This is an impeccably researched and very readable book. A must read for anyone who concerns about the middle-income trap and how to overcome it.' Justin Yifu Lin, Dean, the Institute of New Structural Economics and Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development, Peking University; Former Chief Economist, the World Bank

    'Keun Lee's new book starts with a deep meditation on the process and detours of economic transformation, and quickly becomes a captivating treatise and a sparkling manifesto on the mechanics of sustained economic changes. It ends up being a policy blueprint on how to handle the big issues that keep economists, political leaders, development experts, and ordinary citizens up at night. Keun Lee has charted the path to economic nirvana.' Célestin Monga, Vice-President, African Development Bank Group

    'Using colorful metaphors and rich case studies, this provocative volume very effectively distills the insights from Lee's prize winning Schumpeterian Analysis of Economic Catch-Up for generalists and policy-makers. Based on his formidable experience in East Asia, Lee postulates a set of barriers developing countries potentially face to following established development paths. He then offers valuable lessons on, for instance, the limitations of passive GVC insertion strategies, or the identification of 'windows of opportunity' where entry barriers are not yet established. Taken together, Lee offers central elements of what he intriguingly terms the 'art of catch up'- of identifying or creating new paths to prosperity.' William Maloney, Chief Economist of Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions, World Bank

    'Keun Lee's new book proposes strategies for industrial development that are current, feasible and well argued. He brings a welcome recognition of the scale of China's industrialization and its implications for the greening of development strategies.' John Mathews, Macquarie University, Sydney

    'In this book, one of the forefront thinkers today derives an attractive argument for the closing of the development gap between latecomer and leading countries. Framed along the catch-up paradox, the argument is based on the concept that one is not able to catch up if s/he just keeps catching up. In the author's words, eventual catch-up and overtaking require economies to pursue a path that differs from that taken by the forerunners. The important concepts here are building capabilities and leapfrogging by swiftly exploiting windows of opportunity. Keun Lee uses his virtuosity and deep understanding of the development process to put forward a very exciting book. A must-read for development economists in the field of technology upgrading and economic convergence.' Nick Vonortas, George Washington University and Editor of Science and Public Policy

    'This lucidly written book is a seminal research work that recognizes narrow pathways with high risks and uncertainty but shows alternative ways to move ahead on the sustainable path of economic development and transformation both in developed and developing countries. Keun Lee ignited hope for developing countries to catch up and shape economic thinking and public policy for a new and better world. This book is a must read for public policy-makers and scholars of development economics and innovation studies.' Lakhwinder Singh, Punjabi University, India

    'Building on his mastery of state-of-the-art economic theories and drawing on his unparalleled knowledge of how firms and nations develop, Keun Lee has produced an invaluable guide to economic catch-up. The book provides very pragmatic but highly sophisticated advice for policy-makers and firm-managers in developing nations that want to develop their economies. It is simply a remarkable book.' Ha-Joon Chang, University of Cambridge, and author of Kicking Away the Ladder and Economics: The User's Guide

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108460705
    • length: 300 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Different mechanisms of growth in poor and rich nations and the narrow pathway in between
    3. The three detours and capability building
    4. The detour of promoting big businesses and SMEs during transition
    5. Flying on a balloon out of the windows of opportunity: why and how to leapfrog
    6. Recapitulation of the art
    7. Practicing the art in late latecomers.

  • Author

    Keun Lee, Seoul National University
    Keun Lee is Professor of Economics at Seoul National University, and the founding director of the Center for Economic Catch-up. He is also the President of the International Schumpeter Society, a member of the UN Committee for Development Policy, an editor of Research Policy, a council member of the World Economic Forum, and a member of the governing board of Globelics. He was awarded the 2014 Schumpeter Prize for his book Schumpeterian Analysis of Economic Catch-up: Knowledge, Path-creation and the Middle Income Trap (Cambridge, 2013).

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.