Researchers Akcigit, Grigsby and Nicholas have been exploring the history of business innovation in the United States. Over the last century, America has been one of the most innovative nations on earth. These researchers look at the “golden age” of US innovation—the late 19th and early 20th centuries to “understand the environments that are most conducive to innovation” (Akcigit, et al., 2017). They also note that “innovation is getting harder and the pace of growth is slowing down” (Akcigit, et al., 2017). The two questions that are pertinent to my study are these: (1) what caused initial innovation and (2) what has changed to inhibit innovation.
Here are some of the observations they made about historical innovation in America: innovation flourish when there were:
- “densely populated area where people could interact with one another”
- strong “capital markets to finance innovation”
- “access to well-connected markets”
- “places that were economically and socially open to disruptive new ideas”
- “highly competitive”
In the US, innovators themselves were “highly educated” and pursued “profit and financial returns” (Akcigit, et al., 2017).
The map below shows innovative hotspots in the US (circa 1940). The research of Akcigit, et al. also addresses issues of race, gender, religion and economic inequality, which are also key factors in innovation (as well as many other areas of 20th century American history).
How might this historical data apply to educators?
Akcigit, U., Grigsby, J., & Nicholas, T. (2017, March 06). When America Was Most Innovative, and Why. Retrieved April 20, 2017, from https://hbr.org/2017/03/when-america-was-most-innovative-and-why
Riddell, J. (2017, April 11). Building resilience into the classroom. Retrieved April 19, 2017, from http://www.universityaffairs.ca/opinion/adventures-in-academe/building-resilience-classroom/