Sunday, August 25, 2013

What do we know?

Creativity and innovation are hard to measure. Sometimes success is not immediately apparent. Forbes' Rich Karlgaard cites the Apple Newton as an apparent flop in its day but also a scientific success that tested new components and ideas and set the stage for many of the gadgets that we now cherish.

In "Creativity, cities and innovation," LSE's Neil Lee and Andres Rodrigues-Pose report that they were able to identify innovation in various "creative" occupations but not so for the various "creative" industries (UK data).  The authors report that creative people do their thing in not just the creative industries. One would hope so. But the Newton story should give these investigators pause.

Many city planners and policy makers have been smitten by Richard Florida's Creative Class research and have pinned local area revival hopes on finding ways to get the "cool" people to move their way. But this gets back to the problem of necessary and sufficient conditions. There are probably many of the latter. And findings such as reported by the two LSE scholars may be interesting but we do not know enough to boldly go forward with grand plans.  Too often the plans simply represent current fads.