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Customer reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
5

on August 27, 2012
Martin and Milway provide a thoughtful and accessible analysis of what is good, what is poor and what is lacking in Canadian economic competitiveness. Utilizing the economic fortunes of a typical Canadian family they clearly illustrate how various economic factors have affected Canadian competitiveness in the past. The most important part of the book however is how they show that Canada's economically comfortable situation is at risk if attitudes and policies towards competitiveness and innovation are not changed. They make a strong argument for Canada's competitiveness, but only if we decide to get competitive for the future rather than resting on our laurels from the past. This is a must read book for all who are concerned about Canada's place in the global economy and the economic well being of our next generation.
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on August 30, 2012
This is a book for all Canadians! Martin and Millway expertly diagnose the facts behind our lower level of productiivty versus the US, carefully working through the various potential explanatory factors, and advising on some remedies.

The message was very clear that going-forward Canada cannot rely on mining, forestry, and the energy sector to maintain a high quality of life - development of human resources, research and innovation are parmamount. There were many other great insights in the analysis too, such as: the critical role of cities in growing productivity (yet they have long been ignored by federal governements as mere creatures of provinces); and the need for Canadians to stop over consuming, and start investing - particularly in education.

I was also struck by the advice that Canadian policymakers need to be more innovative; simply replicating best practice policies from elsewhere will not enable Canada to fufill its potential. The authors were suitably bold in suggesting some policies on a range of topics including taxes, poverty, trade and innovation.

The book was well written, with a gentle respect for Candian sensibilities. The authors showed wisdom in discussing how increasing competitiveness involves achieving appropriate balance between pressure and support, as well as noting that Canadians "could be even more competitive and still be nice."
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on September 4, 2012
This primer on productivity and its practical application in Canada is written by two leading economists who also know how to write in a language that is clear and simple. There is a great deal of talk about productivity and competitiveness but these are terms that are often more used than understood and explained as we witness in the current debate on investment by Canadian companies, Martin and Milway kook at the elements of productivity and the reasons for investment. It also examines the challenges around manufacturing. Their book benefits from the practical discussion of economics as it relates to their imaginary Schmidt family, A useful book for anyone who wants to understand the current Canadian economic situation especially as it applies to our ability to compete in the world.
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on August 16, 2012
Federal politicians routinely assure us that Canada plays a pivotal role in the world’s economy. And yet business pundits increasingly tell us that our high tech and retail sectors cannot keep pace with competitors in the countries like the United States and China. Roger Martin and James Milway cut a path through this rhetorical logjam by introducing a perspective we don’t often hear from seasoned economists: informed common sense. Their book, Canada What It Is, What It Can Be, advances the conversation and offers a refreshingly sensible portrait of how a nation can be competitive on an international scale. Highly recommended.
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on July 31, 2012
This book is not worth the paper it is printed on even if you get the ebook.

I can net out the book in one sentence.

Canada would be as prosperous as the US if we were as innovative.

That is the only message in the book and is repeated HUNDREDS of times. Why read all the pages?

There is nothing original or insightful in the book but rehashes old well known assumptions.

The authors are academics so there is a large dose of " if we had more people go to business school this would make things better" with no hard evidence. It is very self serving. It ignores the fact that innovative successful people are started and managed by the likes of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg who didn't finish their degrees.

Definitions that are incorrect are repeated often. Defining GDP as the sum of a countries Value Add is vacuous. GDP included things like Government spending borrowed money. How is that Value Add. Canada is overweight in Oil and Gold. The value of these factors heavily into GDP but are certainly not GDP.

The authors talk about the widening in our GDP per capita compared to the US but he main chart they show clearly shows the opposite if you look at the last 10 years. Clearly the authors have a thesis and try to find facts to corroborate their erroroneous assumptions using tired analysis.

The authors fails to address the obvious reason for our gap in productivity and R &D in comparison to the US. The US is heavily overweight in TECH whereas Canada has very little. Canada is heavily in to naturla resources. It is obvious that tech companies spend more on R&D than a mining or oil company. A sector by sector analysis would show the gap almost non existent between Canada and the US. This kind of analysis is totally absent.

Do not buy this book. It is a total waste of time and money. I can't believe that there are two authors, supporedly experts, with so little to add. Maybe they should think of another career.
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