Matthew Petroff/Wikimedia Commons

La creazione di una società conoscitiva

NEW YORK – I cittadini dei paesi più ricchi del mondo sono arrivati a credere che le loro economie sono fondate sull’innovazione. Ma l’innovazione fa parte dell’economia del mondo sviluppato ormai da più di due secoli, ovvero da migliaia di anni fino a quando la Rivoluzione Industriale non ha iniziato a ristagnare. In seguito, il reddito pro capite ha iniziato a crescere, aumentando anno dopo anno con interruzioni occasionali legate agli effetti derivanti dalle fluttuazioni cicliche.

Circa sessant’anni fa, l’economista e Premio Nobel Robert Solow aveva evidenziato che l’aumento dei redditi doveva essere attribuito non tanto all’accumulo di capitale, quanto al progresso tecnologico e all’apprendimento di nuove e migliori modalità in cui svolgere le attività. Se da un lato, secondo Solow, parte dell’aumento della produttività rispecchia senza dubbio l’impatto di scoperte sorprendenti, dall’altro la maggior parte dell’aumento della produttività dipende in realtà da piccoli miglioramenti. Qualora fosse realmente così, avrebbe senso focalizzare l’attenzione sulle modalità di apprendimento all’interno delle nostre società, su come promuovere l’apprendimento e su come individuarne nuove forme.

Un secolo fa, l’economista e ed analista politico Joseph Schumpeter sosteneva che la virtù essenziale di un’economia di mercato fosse la capacità d’innovazione, e che la focalizzazione tradizionale degli economisti sui mercati competitivi fosse errata. Ciò che era in realtà importante a suo avviso era la competizione per i mercati e non la competizione all’interno dei mercati. La competizione per i mercati rappresentava infatti, secondo lui, il vero motore dell’innovazione. Secondo Schumpeter, una successione di posizioni monopolistiche avrebbero quindi portato nel lungo termine a degli standard di vita più elevati.

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