Why Not Take My Globalization Open Innovation Challenge

Take My Globalization: Open Source Policy, by Drs. Noah St. John and Kevin Keller, PhD, take on what might be called the globalization challenge. The book rightly claims that we have entered a brand new era where “nothing remains static”. No matter how hard we work at closing information flows, barriers to trade continue to rise, new frontiers are created and old fronts recovered. The authors rightly claim that we have not, as many had hoped, found a way out of this.

While I entirely agree with them on some of their analysis, they go about it the wrong way. They begin by treating globalization as a zero sum game. It is claimed that all the gains from globalization must be shared by all. This, they say, is not a sustainable model. Furthermore, it overlooks the fact that all nations are interdependent.

I completely agree that there should be open flows of information and technology, and that these should be controlled tightly by powerful international organizations, like the G8. However, I also think that they are missing the point. What they seem to be suggesting is that if you are a high tech innovator then you should be in bed with Google, Microsoft and others. If you try to compete against them at the national level, it will be very difficult. It may even lead to economic suicide!

In fact, I would submit to you that any comprehensive approach to innovation should treat every nation differently. Each should be judged on its own merits. If there is too much sharing, it should be taxed heavily or denied access to capital. On the other hand, if there is too much protectionism, then it should not be allowed to export. That is, it should be prevented from imposing tariffs on foreign goods that it would like to sell.

Yet, if we look closely, we can see that there are lots of reasons why barriers to open trade occur. It is often a rather murky area. For example, there are often strong national interests involved, despite what one might imagine.

Take, for example, pharmaceuticals. These industries are generally controlled by a few major players. Anyone who wants to do business with these companies has to go through the gate. There are often disputes about patent rights, for example, which adds another layer of complexity.

So, while everyone is talking about how awful the G8 is, why is there not more transparency about what goes on? Why is there so much proprietary protection? Why doesn’t the World Trade Organization just tell everybody how terrible it is for innovation? Because these organizations are totally corrupted? Or because they are part of the problem? No one knows.

But, the bottom line is that we should never take this global phenomenon for granted. Innovation is the key to progress. Without it, everything else is just window dressing. If we want to continue to lead the world in prosperity, open markets, and freedom, we have to stop worrying so much about globalization and adopt a new approach. The alternative is very scary.

Instead of trying to hold governments accountable for their actions, why not start with yourself? Start innovating. Start doing things that make you feel good about being an entrepreneur and that allow you to think about new ideas all the time. Why not start building stuff that your city could use? Help others improve their environments and communities and make them better off.

Just think of all the great ideas that have been proposed over the past few years. Did any of them get approved or funded by government? Not most of them. This is why there are so many problems with our country when it comes to innovation. With too many regulations and too many rules that make it hard to do business in this country.

But, instead of trying to hold other governments accountable, why not take a cue from entrepreneurs and do what they are doing? Make your inventions, your business innovations, and your products available to the American people. Let your government support these efforts if they see that you are making an effort to be an internationalist? When they see that you care about the future of this country and want to see it succeed, they will be more inclined to help you with the regulations and licensing requirements that are necessary for a truly open market.

And, by the way, I am not saying that you should do this only for the United States. It should also be beneficial for everyone else in the world because if everyone starts doing their best, then no one is going to take my globalization open innovation challenge. Remember, the Internet and globalization were started in the US, so shouldn’t we include it in the future and make it so good for everyone around the world? Please consider this.

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