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Systemic Leadership and Growth Waves in the Long Run

William R. Thompson
International Studies Quarterly
Vol. 36, No. 1 (Mar., 1992), pp. 25-48
Published by: Wiley on behalf of The International Studies Association
DOI: 10.2307/2600915
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2600915
Page Count: 24
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Systemic Leadership and Growth Waves in the Long Run
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Abstract

However one evaluates the evidence for long economic waves in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the question of whether long waves existed prior to the late eighteenth century remains open. This question is an important one for substantive reasons, but it also addresses one of the major grounds for skepticism about long waves, namely, the small number of fluctuations ostensibly experienced to date. Emphasizing the critical role of specific leading sectors for growth, a commercial-production growth series for the 1490s-1790s era that can be linked to similar data available for the past two hundred years is developed. The pre-nineteenth century series is characterized by more frequent fluctuations than the post-nineteenth century data--an outcome attributed to varying patterns of warfare and changes in the nature of leading sectors. Yet an important element of continuity observed over five centuries is the upturn associated with the emergence of a new lead economy. When combined with more contemporary data, the new series provide a five-century basis for investigating the evolutionary dynamics and impacts of long waves of political-economic change.

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