China Lags in Innovation

Question: How do you think China’s innovative capabilities compare to those of the U.S.?

Jay Light:  Well China has enormous strengths.  They have a particularly a public governmental way of making decisions which is very effective.  It allows them for example to marshal the efforts of millions, of hundreds of millions actually workers in building infrastructure projects for example.  China on the other hand is not the world’s best model of the free flow of ideas, of people, of innovative new ways of thinking, nor are they maybe the best model of democracy in the sense that we in the west mean it, so I think in fact one of the absolute keys to innovation and to entrepreneurship is a sense of individuality, is a sense of being willing and able to be different, is a sense of thinking out of the box in ways that I think people in this country and in particular young people in this country can do more effectively than people in many other parts of the world including east Asia, so I think that I believe that we have an inherently more innovative society here and you can see it across all the creative and innovative industries and I think we can continue to let that innovative spirit lead us in ways that allow to develop economically.  China is going to build bigger and better infrastructure than we are.  China is going to be able to make better centralized decisions than we can.  China is going to be able to build particularly heavy industrial things like the steel industry and others in ways that... in areas where we used to lead, but in the inherently more technological and creative industries I think we can have an advantage and I think that will service very well as the world moves forward.

Recorded May 19, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman

America will continue to be more creative and innovative than China (for the time being), because entrepreneurship requires a sense of individuality.

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