Le mythe de la spécialisation

CAMBRIDGE – Certaines idées sont intuitives. D'autres paraissent tellement évidentes lorsqu’elles sont exprimées qu'il est difficile de mettre en doute leur bien-fondé. Elles sont puissantes, car elles ont de nombreuses implications qui ne sont pas évidentes. Elles transforment les façons d’appréhender le monde et d’intervenir pour le transformer.

Une telle idée est la notion que les villes, les régions et les pays doivent se spécialiser. Parce qu'il est impossible d’être bon en tout, il serait bénéfique que ces ensembles se concentrent sur ce qu'ils font de mieux – c’est-à-dire sur leur avantage comparatif. Ils devraient chercher à faire très bien peu de choses, puis à les échanger contre d'autres biens qui sont mieux faits ailleurs, exploitant ainsi les gains tirés du commerce.

Pourtant, certaines idées peuvent sembler intuitives ou évidentes et être néanmoins fausses et dangereuses. Comme c'est souvent le cas, ce n'est pas tant ce qu’on ne sait pas, mais plutôt ce qu’on pense savoir, à tort, qui est source de problèmes. L'idée que les villes et les pays se spécialisent dans la réalité, et donc qu'il est souhaitable qu’ils se spécialisent, est un exemple de ces idées très fausses et dangereuses.

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