Skip to content

“The Politics Industry” by Katherine Gehl & Michael Porter – A Harvard Business Review Press Book Essentials

The Politics Industry

A HBR Press books essentials by

That politics are important – no one doubts it anymore. That it is an industry, with vision + mission + strategy – only two brilliant academics as Gehl and Porter could so boldly state. Published during the pandemic of 2020, “The Politics Industry” attempts to break the by-partisan lock in the American politics and foster innovation.

Wait a minute you could say? Why do we need innovation in a system that it is broken? We need to first fix the political system, right? Or?

Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter argue otherwise. Firstly, the US political system works as is designed to. The problem here is the design – its duopoly appearance leads actually to unhealthy internal competition and dismal marginal returns. The players are jostling for one camp or another, ignoring alternatives (including methods) which might actually radically improve the returns for the ordinary citizens. The results are visible since decades – no voice outside the duopoly system can make itself hear, whilst when the political ideas are shaped in a Republican or Democrat form, they loose substance.

Secondly, the US political system is characterized by fierce two sides competition. “The Politics Industry”’s  authors argue that competition has been pushed to the extremes – to such an extent that the connection between solving problems and reelection chances is negligible. Thus, political energies are consumed in maintenance battles and leave little room for normal daily things, which come back when unresolved for a long time.

Gehl and Porter argue for market-based solutions – rewarding innovation and rewarding consumer-oriented solutions. By innovation of course they understand the classical “new ways of solving old problems” approach – solving societal issues that are unaddressed in new ways. This has actually led in other nations, where parties rotations are heavier and where newcomers have much better chances to succeed, to interesting results. The authors specifically address the legislative machinery – by dismantling its alleged resemblance with a sausages factory. Gehl and Porter argue for replacing the current legislature procedures with non-partisan ones – which would allow for a quick elimination of taking sides plus a healthy focus on solving actual real-world issues.

The other big argument from the “Politics Industry” is more of a common sense one – why don’t we simply take the US system and tie it back to the Constitutional ethos, which is to improve the life of the ordinary citizens? By tying the political outcomes to political customer’s expectations, the political system would rather solve real-world, real-pain issues. This would lead to increased political customers satisfaction, a better living for all parties involved and less frictions among the duopoly components.

“The Politics Industry” is a bit of a visionary book – in the sense that it might be ahead of its times. This only makes it more valuable – and as such, one can only hope that the political system will have the wisdom to borrow some idea from famous economists and its’ own consultants. Thus – enjoy!


Title: “The Politics Industry – How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy”

Authors: Katherine M. Gehl, Michael E. Porter

Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press

Publishing Date – June 2020



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *