Richard Florida on spiky innovation

Richard Florida seems to be embracing, somewhat, my thesis  that the U.S. is suffering from an innovation shortfall.

The economist Michael Mandel has argued that America’s capacity for innovation is faltering. Silicon Valley is of course this country’s powerhouse region for technological innovation–and seemingly a statistical outlier. With nearly 400 patents issued per 100,000 residents, the region is eight times more productive than the national average. But it wasn’t always this way. Manufacturing centers such as Detroit and Pittsburgh once led the country in patents per capita. In the last 35 years, metropolitan regions have surged and dipped in innovation, but the San Jose-Sunnyvale metro area has only climbed higher.

I’m going to do a post soon about creative economy jobs.




  1. As long as guys like Florida use such silly measures like patents, they’re going to be way off base. It could be that Silly Valley is that much more inventive or it could be that the patent system is hopelessly broken. I obviously believe it’s the latter, but if he can’t tell the difference, he shouldn’t be using such dumb stats. It’s sort of like measuring the quality of teachers by how many Mercedes there are parked in the staff parking lots. I wonder if that has more to do with dumb union contracts or proliferation of the education bureaucracy than how good a job teachers do. 😉

    A better measure would be to compare publicly available revenues from US creative companies like Apple and Google versus foreign competitors like HTC or Baidu. You could still find several flaws in such a metric, like the foreign subsidiaries or teams that work for Google, but the biggest flaw is in his outmoded thinking in terms of geographic regions, when much of the innovation is already global and becoming highly distributed through telecommuting teams. The v8 component of Google’s Chrome browser was written by a team in Denmark, far away from California. Such highly dispersed teams are the future; trying to fit them into Florida’s backward-looking theory of geographic regions is the biggest flaw of all.

    • As often you started out with (seemingly?) having a point, but approximately where the phrase “union contracts” appeared it turned to the usual BS boilerplate. If somebody can rip off/”leverage” the work of a remote group who makes it available then that’s good for them, otherwise I have yet to see major innovation from offshore units (that is not specific to their local markets of course).

    • cm, funny how your counter to my supposed “BS boilerplate” consists of… BS boilerplate. I gave a specific example of outside innovation, the v8 javascript engine, so it is quite amazing that you have yet to see it when I just pointed it out to you. 😀 That tells me you are actively ignoring it, whether here or elsewhere.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: