Spar, Debora L. 1963-
Spar, Debora L. 1963-
Born 1963; daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Martin H. Spar; married Miltos Catomeris (an architect), 1987. Education: Georgetown University School of Foreign Service; Harvard University, Ph.D.
Office—Harvard Business School, Soldiers Field Rd., Boston, MA 02163. E-mail—[email protected]
Barnard College, president, 2008—; Harvard Business School, Boston, MA, former Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration.
(With Raymond Vernon) Beyond Globalism: Remaking American Foreign Economic Policy, Free Press (New York, NY), 1989.
(With Raymond Vernon and Glenn Tobin) Iron Triangles and Revolving Doors: Cases in U.S. Foreign Economic Policymaking, Praeger (New York, NY), 1991.
The Cooperative Edge: The Internal Politics of International Cartels, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1994.
Cyberrules: Problems and Prospects for On-line Commerce, Program on Information Resources Policy (Cambridge, MA), 1996.
Attracting High Technology Investment: Intel's Costa Rican Plant, World Bank (Washington, DC), 1998.
Ruling the Waves: Cycles of Discovery, Chaos, and Wealth from the Compass to the Internet, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2001.
The Baby Business: How Money, Science, and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception, Harvard Business School Press (Boston, MA), 2006.
Debora L. Spar, president of Barnard College and former Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, has written on international commerce, foreign trade and investment, and the impacts of information-based technologies such as biotechnology, media, and entertainment. In Beyond Globalism: Remaking American Foreign Economic Policy, Spar and coauthor Raymond Vernon examine U.S. policy from the late 1940s through 1998, just before the 2000 election that brought George W. Bush to the presidency. Among the challenges his administration faced regarding foreign economic policy were trade deficits, agricultural subsidies, and third-world debt. All of these issues were the results of earlier policies. Spar and Vernon explain the context for past policy and offer an analysis that recommends a return to globalism.
In a review for the New Leader, Peter B. Kenen praised the book's overview of the trade and monetary rules instituted after World War II, observing that though Spar and Vernon do not sufficiently emphasize the success of these structures in preventing "the mistakes of the interwar period," they "demonstrate convincingly that the postwar system was produced by very special circumstances—the political and economic hegemony of the United States and its temporary immunity to other countries' policies, the bipartisan rejection of isolationism and unilateralism, and the dominance of the White House in the conduct of foreign policy." Kenen also praised Spar and Vernon's analysis of more recent developments, including the erosion of U.S. hegemony and the stronger role of Congress in forging foreign economic policy. But the critic felt that Beyond Globalism does not go far enough in suggesting changes. Because the book bases its argument on analysis of the historical record, wrote Kenen, it does not recognize that "the biggest challenges to U.S. policies reflect issues and choices that did not arise in earlier decades…. History does not guide us," Kenen concluded, and "Vernon and Spar do not advise us."
In The Cooperative Edge: The Internal Politics of International Cartels, Spar attempts to explain why private and public organizations choose to cooperate economically by forming cartels—or opt not to do so. Spar examines four global commodities markets: diamonds, uranium, gold, and silver, with each market presenting a different degree of cooperation or lack thereof. The diamond market, dominated by the Soviet Union and South Africa, is tightly controlled by the DeBeers syndicate; a uranium cartel existed for a short time, but eventually failed; cooperative endeavors in the gold market have been less formal than the cartel structure, but have been relatively durable; and the silver market is not controlled. In Spar's analysis, it is market processes that influence the success or failure of cooperative ventures. She identifies four internal characteristics associated with cooperation: the participants' internal autonomy; the participants' perception of future impacts; the participants' wealth, which must be sufficient to enable them to sacrifice immediate profits for the prospect of larger future gains; and participants' possession of the means by which to enforce loyalty among members—for example, by flooding the market to depress prices in order to punish a participant for defecting.
Many critics found The Cooperative Edge a stimulating and informative book. "Spar provides a compelling account of the kinds of cooperative mechanisms necessary when participants' objectives involve narrowly defined economic gains," wrote Stefanie Ann Lenway in the American Political Science Review. "The analysis of cooperative processes in issue areas motivated by other values may offer alternative perspectives on how to reconcile democratic representation and political accountability with the ever increasing need for international political cooperation." While Foreign Affairs contributor Richard Cooper considered the book's analysis of the concrete results of economic cooperation to be relatively weak, he found The Cooperative Edge "replete with fascinating historical and current information."
Ruling the Waves: Cycles of Discovery, Chaos, and Wealth from the Compass to the Internet prompted considerable critical discussion. A writer for the Economist hailed it as a "beautifully written book … [that] puts cyberspace in its place." Spar argues in the book that, like earlier revolutionary technologies, the Internet will become more regulated. "There will be rules in cyberspace," she writes, "and government will help to craft and enforce them. Why? Because even along this wildest of frontiers, pioneers need property rights and standards. And the only entity that can sustain and enforce these rules is the state." Though the Economist reviewer observed that some of Spar's points seemed insufficiently developed, the critic found the book to be "broadly convincing." Booklist reviewer David Rouse also admired the book, noting that Spar's comments on Internet piracy are "meaningfully instructive." A writer for Publishers Weekly, however, took issue with what the reviewer considered Spar's overly inclusive definition of piracy, noting that "since laws are unclear during periods of innovation, the author can label anyone a pirate when necessary for her model"—a circumstance that can confuse Spar's argument, as when key figures in her analysis appear to both champion piracy and oppose it.
Business History contributor Mahtab A. Farshchi expressed more unqualified enthusiasm for the book, observing that Ruling the Waves is a "well-documented and stimulating" work. The book, wrote Farshchi, "is a valuable historical reference for some of the most important technologies of the past 500 years, which offers interesting insights to scholars, historians, and the public interested in the history and evolution of technological development."
Spar addresses the emotionally fraught subject of assisted reproduction and adoption in The Baby Busi- ness: How Money, Science, and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception. As Spar sees it, the emergence of new technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) have helped to create a huge new "commerce of conception." Fertility treatment, she writes, is a major global business that, in the United States alone, generates revenues of three billion dollars; in poorer countries, women earn money as surrogate mothers or egg donors. Adoption, too, is a major commercial enterprise, with developing countries gaining millions of dollars annually through fees for international adoptions. What's more, this business in baby making is largely unregulated; individual countries have enacted laws but major loopholes exist and can be exploited by those who have the money and means to travel. Spar describes the ways in which socioeconomic factors influence this market, and argues that more regulation is needed.
Reviewing The Baby Business in Commonweal, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead wrote that, "for Spar, babies are good; markets are good; and happy parents are good. Notably though, she fails to consider whether this market is good for the babies." A contributor to Publishers Weekly made a similar point, noting that Spar's "sanguinity will not satisfy all critics," but adding that the book nevertheless "offers a lucid, nuanced guide to this brave new world." An Economist reviewer hailed The Baby Business as a "fascinating book," as did Studies in Family Planning contributor Sheldon J. Segal, who concluded that "Spar has performed an important service for the entire field of clinical medicine by focusing our attention on these [socioeconomic] issues."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Political Science Review, March 1, 1995, Stefanie Ann Lenway, review of The Cooperative Edge: The Internal Politics of International Cartels, p. 263.
Booklist, September 1, 2001, David Rouse, review of Ruling the Waves: Cycles of Discovery, Chaos, and Wealth from the Compass to the Internet, p. 25.
Business History, January 1, 2003, Mahtab A. Farshchi, review of Ruling the Waves, p. 178.
Business History Review, autumn, 1995, Daniel Barbezat, review of The Cooperative Edge, p. 425.
Business Horizons, March 1, 2003, Alan M. Rugman, review of Ruling the Waves, p. 84.
Canadian Business, summer, 2006, Andrew Wahl, review of The Baby Business: How Money, Science, and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, November 1, 1994, I. Walter, review of The Cooperative Edge, p. 505; April 1, 2002, C. Sterling, review of Ruling the Waves, p. 1471.
Commonweal, October 20, 2006, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, "Answered Prayers: Where Is Technological Reproduction Taking Us?," p. 6.
Entrepreneur, December 1, 2001, Mark Henricks, "You're History: As History Repeats Itself, Pick Which Role You Want to Play," p. 30.
Foreign Affairs, July 1, 1994, Richard Cooper, review of The Cooperative Edge, p. 163; November 1, 2001, review of Ruling the Waves, p. 176.
Harvard Business Review, November 1, 2001, review of Ruling the Waves, p. 32.
International Studies Quarterly, April 1, 1995, David A. Lake, review of The Cooperative Edge, p. 155.
Journal of Clinical Investigation, August 1, 2006, Nancy Green, review of The Baby Business, p. 2061.
Journal of Economic Literature, December 1, 1989, Craufurd D. Goodwin, review of Beyond Globalism: Remaking American Foreign Economic Policy, p. 1705; December 1, 1994, review of The Cooperative Edge, p. 1975.
Journal of International Affairs, June 22, 1989, Dwight Cass, review of Beyond Globalism, p. 217.
Journal of Legal Medicine, January 1, 2007, Stephanie A. Anderson, review of The Baby Business, p. 151.
Journal of Policy Analysis & Management, fall, 1989, Henri J. Barkey, review of Beyond Globalism.
Library Journal, May 1, 1994, Mary Chatfield, review of The Cooperative Edge, p. 118; February 1, 2006, Carol J. Elsen, review of The Baby Business, p. 89.
New Leader, December 26, 1988, Peter B. Kenen, review of Beyond Globalism, p. 5.
Publishers Weekly, August 27, 2001, review of Ruling the Waves, p. 71; January 2, 2006, review of The Baby Business, p. 52.
Reference & Research Book News, September 1, 1994, review of The Cooperative Edge, p. 19.
SciTech Book News, December 1, 2001, review of Ruling the Waves, p. 15; March 1, 2006, review of The Baby Business.
Southern Economic Journal, October 1, 1989, Leonard F.S. Wang, review of Beyond Globalism, p. 564.
Studies in Family Planning, March 1, 2007, Sheldon J. Segal, review of The Baby Business, p. 68.
Texas Law Review, February 1, 2007, John A. Robertson, review of The Baby Business, p. 665.
Washington Post Book World, February 26, 2006, David Plotz, review of The Baby Business, p. 5.
Harvard Business School Web site,http://www.hbs.edu/research/ (February 21, 2008), Debora L. Spar faculty profile.