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History and the ‘New Economy’ Narrative; the Case of Research Triangle Park and North Carolina’s Economic Development

April 3, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

Mac McCorklePlease join the Global Research Institute for an evening seminar and panel presented by 2010-11 research fellow Mac McCorkle, Associate Professor of the Practice at the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy.  Included on the panel are:

  • Rob Christensen, staff writer at the Raleigh News and Observer
  • Nichola Lowe, Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill
  • Jay Schalin, Director of State Policy at the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy

In his recently published article History and the ‘New Economy’ Narrative; the Case of Research Triangle Park and North Carolina’s Economic Development(Journal of the Historical Society, Volume 12, Issue 4, December 2012), Professor McCorkle challenges the “New Economy Narrative” about North Carolina’s 20th century economic development and the role of Research Triangle Park (RTP). According to this narrative, often articulated by state policy-makers and commentators, RTP signaled the birth of a new home-grown entrepreneurial culture that represented a historic break with the non-entrepreneurial manufacturing legacies of textiles, furniture, and tobacco.

McCorkle affirms that RTP was a definite step forward and the state’s pre-RTP economy had a number of regressive elements. At the same time, however, McCorkle shows that elite figures from the state’s supposedly “old” industrial economy served as main drivers behind RTP. Moreover, he argues, the North Carolina manufacturing economy exhibited significant progress, abundant entrepreneurial energy, and even some long-term economic innovation well before RTP emerged as an important regional growth center.

Thus McCorkle emphasizes the need to separate current policy thinking from the myths of the New Economy Narrative and ground the origins of RTP in historical context. And he suggests some practical policy implications that can be drawn from a more historically accurate understanding of North Carolina’s economic development.


April 3, 2013
5:30 pm