Monday, September 18, 2006

Creativity and productivity: making growth work

[17 September 2006 - Jamaica Gleaner News] Productivity Week allows us the opportunity to look beyond the firm-based measures of labour productivity to broader and newer issues of development, and indeed, to a new economy. Today the development debate surrounds such concepts as the 'knowledge economy', 'micro-finance', 'nanotechnology', 'sustainable development', 'trade and development', 'governance', 'capacity development', 'culture and development', and so on. There is, however, little that brings all of these together. One exception is new growth theory. It says that creativity is the most important factor of production. According to the old theory, the scarcity of land, labour, and capital determined what is produced (to meet demand) and at what price (to satisfy profit and supply). But many of these factors of production are not really scarce but under-utilised. The new theory is that creative use of capital and labour makes both more productive by invention (new ideas) and innovation (new applications). Firms, governments, and schools, can all increase their productivity through creativity, that is, ever finding new ways to improve their output and results. What is more, any one class, race or nation does not own creativity, nor is it scarce in nature. It is abundant and spreads easily. Rather than a law of diminishing returns, one benefits from a law of increasing returns. Knowledge, ingenuity, discovery, science and technology, are all forms of creativity, and the wellspring of creativity is the human mind. Creative thinking is the basis for good research, organisation, operational procedures, production systems, human relations and governance, and applies to all of these in business, politics, academia, school, justice, crime fighting, and other aspects of human society. More

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