Matthew Petroff/Wikimedia Commons

Créer une société de l’apprentissage

NEW YORK – Les citoyens des États les plus riches du monde ont pour habitude de considérer l’économie de leur pays comme fondée sur l’innovation. Or, l’innovation fait partie intégrante des économies du monde développé depuis plus de deux siècles. En effet, pendant des milliers d’années, et jusqu’à la révolution industrielle, les revenus ont demeuré stagnants. Le revenu par habitant a par la suite explosé, augmentant année par année, interrompu seulement ici et là par les effets occasionnels des fluctuations cycliques.

Il y a 60 ans déjà, l’économiste et prix Nobel Robert Solow a relevé que l’augmentation des revenus était en grande partie attribuable non pas à l’accumulation du capital, mais bien au progrès technologique – capacité à apprendre à mieux faire les choses. Bien qu’une part de l’augmentation de la productivité soit liée à d’importantes découvertes, elle s’explique principalement par un certain nombre de changements progressifs mineurs. Ainsi convient-il de réfléchir à la manière dont les sociétés apprennent, ainsi qu’aux moyens de promouvoir cet apprentissage – y compris en apprenant à apprendre.

Il y a un siècle, l’économiste et expert en sciences politiques Joseph Schumpeter affirmait que l’atout central d’une économie de marché résidait dans sa capacité à innover. Il soutint ainsi combien l’accent traditionnellement placé sur la concurrence des marchés constituait une erreur, expliquant que l’important consistait en une concurrence en direction du marché, bien plus qu’en une concurrence sur le marché. La compétition sur la voie du marché favoriserait ainsi l’innovation. La succession des monopoles aboutirait, selon cette conception, à un niveau de vie plus élevé à long terme.

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