Productivity & Prosperity are very closely related. With high productivity, our economy willimprove. For this purpose, the natural resources are being continuously used all over the world, & are getting depleted. Hence improvement of productivity through innovation is necessary in this field too, for reducing the rate & impact of resource depletion, in spite of the desired economic activity. This is the central theme of this book, containing six Chapters. A study of four key US industries viz. coal mining, petroleum exploration & development, copper mining & forestry, forms its basis. Teams of resource scholars have examined the role of innovation esp. technological advances, in achieving higher levels of efficiency. The book unravels the origins of such innovations, methodology for their success, & lessons from the experience of these industries, for the benefit of one & all. Although extraction & production technologies are in main focus, the changes in other areas such as Government regulations, management techniques & macroeconomic conditions are also brought out. Introduction to the book covered in Chapter one, presents an overview of the major issues. It explains that innovation is an incremental & cumulative process. Technology adoption is gradual. There are examples of depletion inducing innovations, & of the combination & recombination of technologies, producing still more innovations. This Chapter introduces the case studies of four industries, & describes the ways in which depletion has motivated Innovation; the incremental & cumulative nature of innovation in industries, & finally it reviews the evidence from the case studies concerning market regulatory & other conditions.
Record of productivity change in US coal mining over the last 45 years is reviewed in Chapter 2. The key technological developments, which spurred productivity advance in surface & underground mines, & the problems & prospects, for sustaining coalmine productivity improvement in the future, are also discussed. Manufacturers have built equipments to suit specific geological characteristics of seams, & thus raised recovery of coal. Long wall mining technology, a more pervasive degree of automation, & structural changes in American coal industry etc. have improved the productivity substantially. Technology improvement in petroleum exploration & development is discussed in Chapter 3. Some of these are simply dramatic stories of changes, for their contribution to lowering costs & boosting productivity. Partly these developments took place due to the pressures to reduce the costs, & also due to the discovery of new resources in virgin territory. 3 D Seismic technology has led to remarkable success, in finding & developing reserves.
Horizontal drilling, & deep-water exploration & production are other important innovations. Probably the profit motive was the important factor, for the development of such technologies. Chapter 4 discusses Innovation, Productivity growth & the survival of the US copper industry. However implications that flow from the findings, extend to other countries also. Dramatic recovery & global competitiveness of US copper mining in recent years, can be attributed to control in the US production costs, rise in revenues from the by-products, & increase in labour productivity. Innovative activity & new technology, contributed greatly to the growth in labour productivity. Land use change & innovation in US forestry are discussed in Chapter 5. In this case the resource gets depleted, but also revived by the natural process of forest regeneration, as well as augmented by investments, tree planting, & forest plantations, besides practices aimed at increasing forest productivity. There are two sources of increased forest sector productivity. These are technical changes associated resource extraction (or logging), & intensification of forest management, & the increased output associated with moving to a cropping type production mode for industrial wood. The Concluding Chapter 6 presents a model, for quantifying the net effect of technological innovation on Productivity. Technological developments have played a key role in all the four industries. Their productivity performance, & thereby resource scarcity in the US, is thus a lesser problem today. Each of the 6 Chapters is properly organized, with Acknowledgements, end notes, references, & in addition 12 tables & 31 figures in 6 Chapters. Towards the end of the book 149 end notes & 170 references for 6 Chapters are also provided. This book provides an independent analysis, & serves as a source of new ideas, & thus makes an important & valuable contribution in this field. It is considered an essential reading for policy makers, decision makers, environmentalists, students of business, technology & environment studies & the general public.