The Puzzle of Cardwell’s Law
Donald Cardwell was a British historian who observed that “no nation has been very creative for more than an historically short period.” While Cardwell was writing about the grand sweep of human history, this chapter recognizes that Cardwell’s Law continues to describe nations during our own lifetimes. However, despite years of research, no one has been able to explain why some countries succeed at science and technology while others fail, or why national success tends not to last long. Therefore, this chapter sketches out some basic Cardwellian puzzles (e.g., why did Japan become more successful than France at S&T soon after World War II? Why did Great Britain decline from world domination in S&T?). Lurking in the background of this discussion is the question: can the United States break Cardwell’s Law? The main theoretical tensions are outlined, along with a novel theory of innovation: creative insecurity.
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