Friday, October 22, 2004

Intellectual capital should get priority over terrorism

Over time, terrorism is less a threat to the U.S. than the possibility that creative and talented people will stop wanting to live within its borders.
Now that's what I call a quote on Intellectual Capital.
You can find it in an interesting article by Richard Florida in this month's Harvard Business Review (October 2004).
According to Florida, the strength of the American economy does not rest on its manufacturing industries, its natural resources, or the size of its market. It turns on one factor: the country's openness to new ideas, which has allowed it to attract the brightest minds from around the world and harness their creative energies.

But Florida is afraid the United States is on the verge of losing this Intellectual Capital competitive edge. As the nation tightens its borders to students and scientists and subjects federal research funding to ideological and religious litmus tests, many other countries are stepping in to lure that creative capital away. Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, and others are spending more on research and development and shoring up their universities in an effort to attract the world's best, including Americans.

Florida motivates his fears by arguing that:
  1. far from leading the world, the United States doesn't even rank in the top ten in the percentage of its workforce engaged in creative occupations.
  2. the baby boomers will soon retire.
  3. data is showing large drops in foreign student applications to U.S. universities and in the number of visas issued to knowledge workers, along with concomitant increases in immigration in other countries, suggest that the erosion of talent from the United States will only intensify.

I don't know about you, but I'm not too sure the US is actually in danger of losing it's extremely strong IC 'competitive edge'. I believe the US actually have a near-monopoly position in many crucial knowledge-intensive industries such as software, computers, bio industry, pharmaceuticals, defense and what have you.

And although as a percentage of the total of working people the number of creative jobs may not be the highest in the world, in absolute terms it still is!

And besides, some competition in these important industries of the future is healthy and in the interest of the whole world, including the US. Surely Florida wouldn't want the US to be open only to it's own ideas?