Technology, Competitiveness and the 2008 Election

Competitiveness is the “capacity of people, organizations and nations to achieve superior outputs and especially outcomes, and in particular, to add value, while using the same or lower amounts of inputs.” (Caryannis & Gonzalez, 2003) Basically, how can you make the best of the resources you have – and produce high quality stuff while you’re at it? On the national scale, competitiveness is often assessed by how well the organizations, institutions, infrastructure and economic policies of a country (inputs) can be leveraged by people to enhance the collective quality of life (outputs). Adding value to peoples’ lives by enhancing the quality of life is the goal!

These inputs are all technologies – elements that contribute to social groups providing themselves with the material objects of their civilizations. When changes in any of them either improve or inhibit the performance of people, companies or countries, those technological outcomes also influence competitiveness. Reducing waste, improving reliability, creating new products and defining new, needed services all contribute to increasing competitiveness. However, we shouldn’t forget that improving institutions like schools and healthcare systems, improving infrastructure for transportation and communications, and sharpening the economic policy so that it supports sustainable progress are also important.

How do the candidates’ proposed innovation policies stack up against one another? Here are a few of the best resources I’ve found to help explain the differences to me:

Caryannis, C. & Gonzalez, M. (2003). Creativity and innovation = competitiveness? When, how and why. In L.V. Shavivina (Ed.), The International Handbook on Innovation. Oxford: Elsevier, pp. 170-179.

Ezell, S.J. & Atkinson, R.D.(2008). Comparing the candidates’ technology and innovation policies. Report of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF). Available online.

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