Saturday, November 29, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Amar Bhidé, a business professor at Columbia University, bubbles with optimism at a time when many Americans have plenty to worry about. In his new book, The Venturesome Economy: How Innovation Sustains Prosperity in a More Connected World (Princeton University), he describes a uniquely American form of innovation, one driven largely by the appetites of American consumers. Bhidé talked with Inc. senior editor Eric Schine about why it doesn't matter where scientific breakthroughs come from, how entrepreneurs push basic innovations forward, and why the iPod represents the triumph of the American system…
Q: (Because of the current financial crisis) are you less optimistic about America's ability to push ahead and create a vibrant, growing economy than you were when you sat down to write your book?
A: No, not at all. We have one thing that works really well, and that's innovation. In the past, many technological developments have taken place during periods of severe economic stress. During the period of high inflation and doom-and-gloom recession of the early 1980s, for instance, people were buying and learning how to use PCs. That PC revolution set the stage for the huge productivity gains of the 1990s. Even in the Great Depression, the increases in productivity were enormous, based on the diffusion of a lot of technologies that had been developed in the 1920s. I'm not wishing for a depression or a replay of the 1980s. All I am saying is that we have a buffer against the financial meltdown, and that buffer is our ability to innovate, especially in the technology sector.
Q: You write that the dire predictions of so-called techno-nationalists are misplaced. Who are these techno-nationalists, and what are they missing?
A: These are people who, in the context of trade and globalization, think that protectionism is bad, but that in order for us to survive the "onslaught of competition" from China and India, we have to crank up our technological investments so that we continuously stay ahead. These people say, let's invest more in R&D, let's invest more in basic research, let's train more engineers -- on the premise that the greater the technological lead that you have vis-à-vis other nations, the more prosperous you're going to be.
Q: And that's wrong?
A: Absolutely. The U.S. isn't locked into a winner-take-all race for scientific and technological leadership with other nations. What's more, the growth of research capabilities in China and India, and thus their share of cutting-edge research, does not reduce U.S. prosperity. My analysis suggests exactly the opposite. Advances abroad will help improve living standards in the U.S. Moreover, the benefits I identify aren't the usual ones of how prosperity abroad increases opportunities for U.S. exporters. I show how cutting-edge research developed abroad benefits domestic production and consumption.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Nov 20th 2008
Confronted by Asia’s technological rise and the financial crisis, corporate America is losing its self-confidence. It should not…
Does the relative decline of America as a technology powerhouse really amount to a threat to its prosperity? Nonsense, insists Amar Bhidé of Columbia Business School. In “The Venturesome Economy”, a provocative new book, he explains why he thinks this gloomy thesis misunderstands innovation in several fundamental ways.
First, he argues that the obsession with the number of doctorates and technical graduates is misplaced because the “high-level” inventions and ideas such boffins come up with travel easily across national borders. Even if China spends a fortune to train more scientists, it cannot prevent America from capitalising on their inventions with better business models.
That points to his next insight, that the commercialisation, diffusion and use of inventions is of more value to companies and societies than the initial bright spark. America’s sophisticated marketing, distribution, sales and customer-service systems have long given it a decisive advantage over rivals, such as Japan in the 1980s, that began to catch up with its technological prowess. For America to retain this sort of edge, then, what the country needs is better MBAs, not more PhDs.
America also has another advantage: the extraordinary willingness of its consumers to try new things. Mr Bhidé insists that such “venturesome consumption” is a vital counterpart to the country’s entrepreneurial business culture.
There have been many negative comments posted on The Economist website about this article because of it's unfortunate use of "MBA" instead of what Dr. Bhide really says, "entrepreneur." So I just posted this comment:
Dr. Bhide's previous book, The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses, has been called by the publisher of Inc. Magazine the most important book about startup ever written. In light of it, this new book of his makes a critically important point that is totally missed in this article: What America needs is not more scientists (or MBAs), but more entrepreneurs.
John Wren, author of Daring Mighty Things--The Simplest Way to Start Your First (or Next) New Business. Available free today for Economist readers at www.JohnWren.com
My little book on startup is also available for free today to readers of www.JohnWren.com, just click on the link to the bottom left. What do you think of it? Your input now would be very helpful, I'm intending to publish a fully revised print edition soon.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
A guest editorial in the Denver Post today sees the GOP problem as conservatives-gone-wild, and that what is needed is a move to the middle:
(click here for article): Stunned by GOP's post-election response
This the comment that I just posted:
Moderation is a red herring, a distraction from the real reason the Democrats won such an overwhelming victory, in my opinion.
What was the real reason?
At least in Colorado, Democrats did the grassroots organizing that the GOP has only given lip-service over the last couple of decades.
Phone banks, advertising & direct-mail, and 96-hour GOTV campaigns will never beat door-to-door, neighbor-to-neighbor efforts, especially in caucus states such as Colorado and Iowa.
So watch for attempt to kill the caucus again, this time from an ungodly alliance between misguided GOP leaders and caucus-haters of the left, elitists who supported Amendment 29 in 2002 which would have killed our wonderful Colorado precinct caucus-assembly system for nominating candidates to the primary ballot.
Is it time to fire-up Save the Caucus? We'll raise this as an issue this afternoon (Sun, Nov 23) at Denver Speakers Corner. Join us today, or any Sunday afternoon, at 4 p.m., Denver Civic Center, North Pavilion on Colfax across the street from the Denver Newspaper Agency. Details and optional RSVP at http://cocacop.meetup.com/2