Forum Experts

John Zysman

John Zysman

Professor, University of California-Berkeley; Founding Director, Berkeley Roundtable on International Economics (BRIE)


Through his academic work and role as adviser to senior policymakers, government leaders, and company executives, John Zysman, Professor  Emeritus at UC Berkeley,  has played a leading role in developing the trade, innovation and service strategies for central challenges in today’s global economy. John is co-founder of the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy (BRIE) – an international focal point for out-of-the-box thinking on the new networked economy.  BRIE’s thought-provoking work helps shape policy and strategy on trade and industry in the United States, Asia, and Europe. 

John has extensive experience in helping corporations and governments develop and implement cross-border strategies and alliances in the high-technology sector. He supported and helped design programs for major American companies to develop corporate relations with Asian and European governments, including training programs for senior Chinese officials. He has also worked with start-up firms in Europe and the United States. 

Over the years John has worked to develop links among industry, the National Laboratories, and the University of California, Berkeley. He has served on the director’s advisory board of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the industrial advisory board of Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the steering committee of the Industry University cooperative research program of the university. 

Zysman’s recent work focuses on changing patterns of global competition and the latest phase of the digital economy.  Recent articles include “The Rise of the Platform Economy” (Issues in Science and Technology, 2016), and “Winning Coalitions for Climate Policy” (in Science, 2015).  Recent books include The Third Globalization: Can Wealthy Countries Stay Rich in the 21st Century? (Oxford University Press, 2013); Can Green Sustain Growth: From the Religion to the Reality of Sustainable Prosperity (Stanford University Press, 2013); The Services Dilemma (Rosendahls Media Partner, 2013, Copenhagen); and 21st Century Manufacturing (UNIDO, 2013, Vienna). 

John’s work on the growing digitization of the global services economy resulted in the creation of the book project How Revolutionary Was the Digital Revolution? (Stanford University Press) with the Institute of the Finnish Economy. The project was jointly funded by Nokia, the Finnish innovation agency Tekes, and the European Commission. One focus was the influence of the services sectors in modern economies. “Services With Everything”, with Jonathan Murray, Niels Christian Nielsen and Stuart Feldman, argues that the notion of production needs to be extended to include both manufacturing and capital-intensive services, as increasing value in the global economy is generated by the effective deployment of ICT-enabled services. 

Recent BRIE working papers ( include “The Next Phase in the Digital Revolution: Platforms, Abundant Computing, Growth and Employment” with Martin Kenney and  “Great Power Politics in a Global Economy” with Richard Steinberg and Melissa Griffith. 

Zysman’s early work with Laura Tyson, formerly chairperson of the U.S. National Economic Council, on American competitiveness, American Industry in International Competition, (Cornell University Press, 1983)  had a significant impact on American trade policy and strategies for technology development. In the years of intense U.S.-Japan trade negotiations, his advice and guidance contributed to the framing of U.S. national trade strategies. When the focus shifted toward China, BRIE organized an informal, high-level working group of Chinese, Japanese, and Americans that met for several years to advise on China’s entry to the World Trade Organization.  His book with Stephen Cohen, Manufacturing Matters: The Myth of the Post-industrial Economy(Basic Book, 1988) remains an enduring driver of economic development policy and strategy for both governments and companies. 

John Zysman received his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University (1968) and his doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1973).