Facing the Global Competitiveness Challenge: A Renewed and Systematic Focus on Innovation Is the Key to U.S. Economic Growth and Prosperity

By Hughes, Kent H. | Issues in Science and Technology, Summer 2005 | Go to article overview

Facing the Global Competitiveness Challenge: A Renewed and Systematic Focus on Innovation Is the Key to U.S. Economic Growth and Prosperity


Hughes, Kent H., Issues in Science and Technology


The United States today faces a new set of economic challenges. Indeed, for the first time since the end of World War II, U.S. global leadership in innovation is being brought into question.

During the past 15 years, the rise of China, reform in India, and the end of the Soviet Union have added more than 2.5 billion relatively well-educated but low-wage people to the world labor force. China, India, Russia, and Central Europe are all making significant investments in higher education, emphasizing mathematics, science, and engineering. The spread of the Internet and the digital revolution have combined to introduce international competition to a range of service occupations that were previously shielded from overseas rivals.

New competitors in Asia and the old Soviet sphere of influence as well as old rivals in Europe and Japan are making strides in adapting the U.S. model of innovation to their own economic institutions and traditions. New and old competitors are now seeking to attract the students, professors, engineers, and scientists that for years viewed the United States as the principal land of opportunity.

The United States has met and overcome economic challenges before. In the 1980s, this country struggled with severe inflation, stagnant productivity growth, and rising international competition. Driven in part by a fear that Japan was becoming the world's major industrial power, government and private-sector actors worked in tandem to forge changes that once again made the United States the world's dominant economy.

When the United States entered the 21st century, it faced yet another set of difficulties: the collapse of a financial bubble, a slowing economy, the tragic attacks of 9/11, and a series of corporate scandals. Yet a public-sector focus on stimulating the economy and a still more productive private sector combined to move the economy back toward growth by 2003.

Too many Americans see the 1980s and the country's recent return to economic health as an all but effortless inevitability, a simple demonstration of the United States' unique economic prowess. But it is a dangerous mistake to take economic growth for granted. Meeting the challenge of one major competitor does not prevent other rivals from emerging. Short-term recovery can mask longer-term challenges and lead to a comforting yet corrosive complacency.

In the face of emerging and still unforeseen challenges, the United States can find promise in the strategy that helped bring it past success. The experience of the 1980s led to public policies that helped propel the prosperity of the 1990s. At the heart of those policies was a systematic focus on innovation as the key to future growth and prosperity. Yet today the nation seems to have lost that focus. It needs to regain it and to update and broaden the types of competitiveness policies that served it so well in the past.

A competitiveness strategy emerges

The 1970s' combination of stagflation and growing international competition gave rise to a competitiveness movement that emphasized a complementary set of policies to foster long-term productivity growth. The competitiveness strategy can be traced to the 1979 and 1980 reports of the Joint Economic Committee, chaired by Senator Lloyd Bentsen. It received added definition and political support in Rebuilding the Road to Opportunity, published in 1982 by the House Democratic Caucus.

The 1985 report of the President's Commission on Industrial Competitiveness (known as the Young Commission after its chairman John Young, then the chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard) fully embraced the focus on long-term productivity growth and also advocated a series of specific steps to be taken by the private and public sectors. The Young Commission report spelled out four complementary public policies that have set the broad outlines of a national competitiveness strategy:

Investment: Create a climate that encourages public and private investment. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Facing the Global Competitiveness Challenge: A Renewed and Systematic Focus on Innovation Is the Key to U.S. Economic Growth and Prosperity
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.