Expanding Innovation

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					                 EDITOR’S JOURNAL                                   KEVIN FINNERAN




Expanding Innovation


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        nnovation is good. Everyone says so. It will increase       system that will provide the skills needed to keep all of these
        worker productivity and thus the world’s wealth and         activities going in the future. And all of these activities will
        the value of work. It will cure deadly diseases and         also be necessary to accomplish similar goals in the prolif-
        ease the ailments that afflict us as we age. It will en-    erating and expanding services sector.
        able us to tap the unlimited resources of renewable            The articles in this tour of innovation policy around the
energy and to use our finite resources of soil, water, plants,      world illustrate how a variety of countries that differ in size,
and minerals more sustainably. It will expand our access to         history, political culture, and many other ways are finding
knowledge and the arts and provide us with new tools with           their own way to pursue the shared goal of innovation. Al-
which to express our own creativity.                                though countries can learn from observing the experience
   Of course, it is not that simple. Innovation has enabled         of other countries, no single template for innovation policy
us to devastate some fish populations and drain some                exists. The United States, Brazil, Singapore, and Ireland dif-
aquifers, increase the time demands of many jobs and sap            fer in obvious and subtle ways, and those differences are re-
the creativity from others, provide tools that enable a small       flected in the innovation strategies they have adopted. They
band of terrorists to do unimaginable damage, and create            share a concern with education, research, capital formation,
a global financial system of mind-boggling power and wor-           global market position, and government regulation, but
risome fragility. Nevertheless, virtually all the world’s nations   what they do in each of these areas varies considerably. Un-
and their leaders see innovation as a force that they want to       derstanding these differences is the key to understanding
nurture and direct to meet the needs and aspirations of             why each of these countries is now successful at expanding
their people.                                                       its innovative capacity. And the differences are not only
   Stimulating innovation and directing it to the proper ends       among countries but within each country over time.
is not easy. To begin with, innovation entails much more               Brazil is a country that has been reinventing itself dur-
than inventing clever new gadgets. Even with gadgets, it in-        ing the past half century. In the 1960s, Brazil had no grad-
volves design to make the gizmos appealing, safe, and easy          uate education programs, and undergraduate teaching was
to use, manufacturing processes that avoid waste and en-            not a full-time job. Students seeki
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: [...] innovation entails much more than inventing clever new gadgets. [...] in the midst of this pell-mell stampede to promote innovation and increase economic output, Patrick Cunningham reminds us that production alone is not an adequate measure of a nations well-being.
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