Matthew Petroff/Wikimedia Commons

La creación de una sociedad del aprendizaje

NUEVA YORK – Los ciudadanos de los países más ricos del mundo han llegado a pensar que sus economías se basan en la innovación. Pero la innovación ha sido parte de la economía del mundo desarrollado durante más de dos siglos. De hecho, durante miles de años, hasta la Revolución Industrial, los ingresos se encontraban estancados. Posteriormente, el ingreso per cápita se disparó, aumentando año tras año, y solamente se vio interrumpido por los efectos ocasionales de las fluctuaciones cíclicas.

El economista y premio Nobel Robert Solow señaló alrededor de sesenta años atrás que, en gran medida, los aumentos en ingresos no se deberían atribuir a la acumulación de capital, sino que se los deberían atribuir a los avances tecnológicos – es decir, al aprendizaje de cómo hacer las cosas mejor. Si bien una parte del incremento de la productividad refleja el impacto que tienen los grandes y espectaculares descubrimientos, una gran parte de dicho incremento se ha debido a cambios pequeños y graduales. Y, si ese es el caso, tiene sentido centrar la atención en cómo las sociedades aprenden, y qué es lo que se puede hacer para promover el aprendizaje – incluyendo la promoción de cómo aprender a aprender.

Hace un siglo, el economista y politólogo Joseph Schumpeter argumentó que la virtud central de la economía de mercado era su capacidad para innovar. Sostuvo que el enfoque tradicional de los economistas sobre los mercados competitivos se ubicaba en el lugar equivocado; lo que importaba era la competencia por el mercado, no la competencia dentro del mercado. La competencia por el mercado fue lo que condujo hacia la innovación. Una sucesión de monopolistas conduciría, según este punto de vista, a niveles de vida superiores en el largo plazo.

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