Cormac McCarthy's Increasing Returns
January 4, 2017 1:49 AM Subscribe
How To Write Better Harvard Business Review Articles: Have Cormac McCarthy Do Your Editing - "I really enjoyed this anecdote about the writing of W. Brian Arthur's classic article on increasing returns from 1996." (via)
As we are wrapping up the interview, [Arthur] tells me an anecdote about the creation of that Harvard Business Review article. “I don’t know if you know the writer Cormac McCarthy,” he begins, “but I was very good friends with him at the time. I mailed the draft down to Cormac, who was in El Paso or somewhere like that. When I didn’t hear from him, I called him up and said, ‘Did you like my increasing returns article? It’s for the Harvard Business Review.’ There was kind of a silence on the line. And then he said, ‘Would you be interested in some editing help on that?’ ”Increasing Returns and the New World of Business - "Let's go back to beginnings—to the diminishing-returns view of Alfred Marshall and his contemporaries. Marshall's world of the 1880s and 1890s was one of bulk production: of metal ores, aniline dyes, pig iron, coal, lumber, heavy chemicals, soybeans, coffee—commodities heavy on resources, light on know-how. In that world it was reasonable to suppose, for example, that if a coffee plantation expanded production it would ultimately be driven to use land less suitable for coffee. In other words, it would run into diminishing returns..."
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