Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Interesting comparison between unions (Soviet and European, that is)

Esko Aho, President of the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and former Prime Minister of Finland, made a very interesting comment at the European Presidency Conference on Innovations and Clusters, on why many governmental efforts to create growth based on innovation often fail.
The European Lisbon Agenda is an action and development plan for the European Union. The intention is to deal with the low productivity and economic growth stagnation in the EU, by proposing various policy initiatives for the EU member states.
It was adopted in 2000 by the European Council to “make Europe the most competitive and the most dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion, and respect for the environment by 2010.”
What happened was that the EU member states invested more in research, hoping that some innovation and growth should show up.
In October 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. In 1961 the Soviet Union with Comrade Chairman Nikita Khrushchev decided on a plan with basically the same goals: Funding research hoping to create growth and be wealthier than the US by 1971. In April 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. During the cold war CCCR had more scientists than the U.S.
Today we know the result.
It is two years left until 2010. EU has not even left the starting point. The Lisbon Agenda is also a failure.
The similarities between the plans are striking. We devote plenty of attention and resources to preserving the old, while the needs of creating something new have low priority. In Europe we have a hard time accepting that our social model must change if we intend to become the world’s leading economic region.
The failure also is a proof of policymakers’ lack of understanding of implementation. They don’t take into account local conditions. The government’s excessively rationalist or bureaucratic ideologies prevented this.


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