Dan Breznitz will present his new book, Innovation in Real Places: Strategies for Prosperity in an Unforgiving World, for NACLICS on October 15, noon to 1:30 EDT. Register here for this seminar.
Across the world, cities and regions have wasted trillions of dollars blindly copying the Silicon Valley model of growth creation. We have lived with this system for decades, and the result is clear: a small number of regions and cities are at the top of the high-tech industry, but many more are fighting a losing battle to retain economic dynamism. But, as this books details, there are other models for innovation-based growth that don’t rely on a flourishing high-tech industry. Breznitz argues that the purveyors of the dominant ideas on innovation have a feeble understanding of the big picture on global production and innovation. They conflate innovation with invention and suffer from techno-fetishism. In their devotion to start-ups, they refuse to admit that the real obstacle to growth for most cities is the overwhelming power of the real hubs, which siphon up vast amounts of talent and money. Communities waste time, money, and energy pursuing this road to nowhere. Instead, Breznitz proposes that communities focus on where they fit within the four stages in the global production process. Success lies in understanding the changed structure of the global system of production and then using those insights to enable communities to recognize their own advantages, which in turn allows to them to foster surprising forms of specialized innovation. All localities have certain advantages relative to at least one stage of the global production process, and the trick is in recognizing it.