The Project on Capital Choices, sponsored by the Harvard Business School and the Council on Competitiveness, initially set out to determine the extent to which the competitiveness of American industry is being undermined by a short time horizon. The project has since evolved into a broader examination of how private capital is allocated in the United States, Japan, and Germany and an assessment of the relative effectiveness of the American corporate governance system. Eighteen research papers were prepared by 25 prominent scholars in a wide range of disciplines. Professor Porter's paper, from which the following article is excerpted, develops an overall framework for understanding national investment systems and their consequences, drawing on the project papers and his own research. The complete paper is available through the Council on Competitiveness. A book containing all the project papers will be published by the Harvard Business School Press.