Greg Clark has written a book that offers a different perspective on why the Industrial Revolution happened and the West got rich before the rest. The main argument of the book runs counter to most of today's theories, including ones that put the emphasis on property right and high-quality institutions. Clark believes the secret of growth lies in the rich and economically successful having had more children than the poor in England during the crucial centuries before the Industrial Revolution. This enabled, according to Clark, middle-class values of hard work, thrift, and entrepreneurialism to spread throughout English society, which in turn raised economic growth. Poor countries remain poor because they are stuck in a Malthusian equilibrium (and I guess because they do not have enough hard-working people).
Clark makes much of the fact that Indian cotton textile plants had much lower labor productivity than those in Britain in the 19th century despite having identical machinery. Clark thinks this points to low-quality labor (read laziness) as the key difference. Having recently seen how Toyota or BMW are able to eke out labor productivity levels in their South African plants equivalent to that in Japan or Germany, I think the example is far less telling (or general) than Clark thinks.