Gerhard Mensch (economist)

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Gerhard O. Mensch (born November 12, 1937 ) is a German economist and professor for economics in Germany and the USA . In 1983 he received the Prognos Prize for Economics of Innovation and in 1985 the Humboldt Prize for Applied Mathematics and Computer Science of Innovation Processes. As a researcher, Mensch developed contributions to innovation research : innovation rating and models of innovation process control and innovation financing , as well as to economic research, in particular the trend-hand model and the dynamic Schumpeter -lock model.

Measure of the degree of innovation ° M according to humans


Mensch comes from an entrepreneurial family (phytopharmaceutical factory: Hellmann & Mensch OHG). After receiving his doctorate in Bonn in 1966, he received an assistantship at the Stanford Graduate School of Business from 1966 to 1967. This was followed by a junior professorship at the Berkeley Management Science Center. From 1968 to 1971 he was a professor at Tulane University New Orleans. In the 1970s, Mensch participated in the establishment of the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) and was head of innovation research at the WZB. In 1980 he received a visiting professorship in corporate finance at Harvard Business School , followed by a professorship in management and economics at Case Western Reserve University , Cleveland , Ohio from 1981–1986 . In 1986, Mensch founded the International Institute of Industrial Innovations in Munich (4IN, subsidiary of 3IN Investment in Innovation , London 1974, Boston 1984). Teaching activities followed in Germany, Austria, Italy and the USA.

A key work by Gerhard Mensch is his book “Das technologische Patt” with the subtitle “Innovations overcome the Depression” (1975; English edition: “Stalemate in Technology: Innovations Overcome the Depression”, 1979). Core statement: Basic innovations in the real economy are the driving forces behind income, employment and prosperity and are suitable for overcoming economic stagnation without the risk of inflation.

Scientific statements

Gerhard Mensch is a developer of the structural instability analysis of markets and industries. His work continues the discontinuity theory of the economist Joseph A. Schumpeter (1883–1950) and shows how a surge of discontinuous innovations has overcome stagnations and crises in the past. His current works show current possibilities.

Mensch added weaknesses and gaps in Schumpeter's model, for example in the development of knowledge in the form of “basic innovations”. It describes fundamental technological innovations with industrial implementation. Basic innovations create new branches of the economy and jobs or income. “Improvement innovations”, on the other hand, develop existing fields of activity or refine them. In addition, he also sees "sham innovations" that do not produce any economic benefit. This distinction occurs in Mensch's Innovation Rating and is intended to serve as the basis for innovation policy and innovation financing.

Mensch concludes that it is basic innovations that initiate the next economic upswing. When depicting the long-term economic trend, he turns away from Schumpeter's rigid notion of uniform wave motion and replaces it with the “Trend Hand Model”: In major crises, current trends burst and several new trends start at different speeds and planning horizons. This model was presented by Mensch at the international Schumpeter conference 2009 in Trest , Schumpeter's birthplace. He sees great topicality and practical importance of the model for financial and economic planning in the 21st century.

The theses of humans have been discussed controversially by economists, especially monetarists of quantity theory , and have led to a renewed engagement with Schumpeter's work. One criticism of man's work is that he does not explain the cycles or changing trends, but simply presupposes them and only highlights the factors that are intended to strengthen or weaken their occurrence. It is also viewed critically that the view in his work from 1975 tends to turn backwards, towards the invention of technical artefacts and the swarms of innovations, and ultimately is hardly directed towards the diffusion of innovations. Proponents of his theories, on the other hand, speak of great macroeconomic importance: "The most important contribution to macroeconomic theory since John Maynard Keynes " ("The technological stalemate", World Press Review).

In the debate about innovation and stagflation, people were wrongly ascribed the view that undulating or fluctuating development is a property of basic innovations, but not of the underlying flow of scientific knowledge. As has long been observed and confirmed qualitatively and quantitatively in recent science and technology research, the scientific development is also proceeding in spurts. They are no more uniform, easily predictable waves than the long-wave fluctuations in economic growth, but the dynamics of scientific growth are inversely related to them; H. the high points of the new creation of technological and scientific knowledge lie in the "valleys" of economic booms, and the technological-scientific generation of knowledge "weakens" in the boom - a late confirmation of similar conjectures by Kondratieff or Schumpeter, which Mensch followed. From this point of view, too, the swarms of mere pseudo-innovations observed by humans in the economic boom are plausible.


  • Gerhard Mensch: The technological stalemate: Innovations overcome depression . Frankfurt a. M. 1975. English edition (in USA): Stalemate in Technology: Innovations Overcome the Depression. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1979.
  • Gerhard Mensch: On the dynamics of technical progress . In: Zeitschrift für Betriebswirtschaft 41 (1971), pp. 295-314.
  • Gerhard Mensch: Basic innovations and improvement innovations . In: Zeitschrift für Betriebswirtschaft 42 (1972), pp. 291-297.
  • Gerhard Mensch: Theory of Innovation . Berlin: International Institute of Management, January 1973.
  • Gerhard Mensch: Mixed economic innovation practice: Alternative organizational forms of state research and technology policy . Göttingen 1976 (Commission for Economic and Social Change).
  • Gerhard Mensch, Richard J. Niehaus (Ed.): Work, Organizations and Technological Change . (NATO Conference Series). Plenary session 1982.
  • Gerhard Mensch, Wolfgang Weidlich, Günter Haag: Short-Term Fluctuations in Industry . Working Paper No. 58, Weatherhead School of Management, Case University, Cleveland, Ohio 1983.
  • Gerhard Mensch et al .: The Schumpeter Clock . Ballinger 1984.
  • Vasudevan Ramanujam, Gerhard Mensch: Improving the Strategy-Innovation Link . In: Journal of Product Innovation Management Vol. 2, 1985, No. 4, pp. 213-223.
  • Günter Haag, Wolfgang Weidlich, Gerhard Mensch: A macroeconomic potential describing structural change of the economy . In: Theory and Decision Vol. 19 (1985) No. 3, pp. 279-299.
  • Günter Haag, Wolfgang Weidlich, Gerhard Mensch: The Schumpeter Clock . Proc. of Invited Sessions on Economic Evolution and Structural Change, 5th International Conference on Mathematical Modeling at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, July 1985, 29-31.
  • Vasudevan Ramanujam, Gerhard Mensch: A Diagnostic Tool for Identifying Disharmonies Within Corporate Innovation Networks . In: Journal of Product Innovation Management Vol. 3, 1986, No. 1, pp. 19-31.
  • Gerhard Mensch: Innovation Management in Diversified Corporations: Problems of Organization: Human Systems Management . In: The Journal of Science Policy and Research Management Vol. 2, 1987, No. 4, p. 487 (in Japanese).
  • Gerhard Mensch, Günter Haag, Wolfgang Weidlich: The Schumpeter Clock. A micro-macro model of economic change ... , In: Technology and Productivity (from OECD) 1991.
  • Gerhard Mensch: Technology and innovation management in diversified companies . In: Hinterhuber, HH: The future of diversified companies, Munich 2000, pp. 185–200.
  • Gerhard Mensch: If This Long Wave Steeps-up and Breaks: What Then? . In: TC Devezas (Editor): Kondratieff Waves, Warfare and World Security, NATO Advanced Science Congress, Lissboa 2006, IOS Press. 2006, pp. 80-90.

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