Flight of the Creative Class: Why America Is Losing the Global Competition for Talent... and What We Can Do to Win Prosperity Back

Overview

Research–driven and clearly written, bestselling economist Richard Florida addresses the growing alarm about the exodus of high–value jobs from the USA.

Today's most valued workers are what economist Richard Florida calls the Creative Class. In his bestselling The Rise of the Creative Class, Florida identified these variously skilled individuals as the source of economic revitalisation in US cities. In that book, he shows that investment in technology and a civic culture of ...

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Overview

Research–driven and clearly written, bestselling economist Richard Florida addresses the growing alarm about the exodus of high–value jobs from the USA.

Today's most valued workers are what economist Richard Florida calls the Creative Class. In his bestselling The Rise of the Creative Class, Florida identified these variously skilled individuals as the source of economic revitalisation in US cities. In that book, he shows that investment in technology and a civic culture of tolerance (most often marked by the presence of a large gay community) are the key ingredients to attracting and maintaining a local creative class.

In The Flight of the Creative Class, Florida expands his research to cover the global competition to attract the Creative Class. The USA once led the world in terms of creative capital. Since 2002, factors like the Bush administration's emphasis on smokestack industries, heightened security concerns after 9/11 and the growing cultural divide between conservatives and liberals have put the US at a large disadvantage. With numerous small countries, such as Ireland, New Zealand and Finland, now tapping into the enormous economic value of this class – and doing all in their power to attract these workers and build a robust economy driven by creative capital – how much further behind will USA fall?

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Editorial Reviews

BusinessWeek
“A compelling and seductive thesis.”
Michele Wucker
… Florida, who teaches public policy at George Washington University, has sent a badly needed wake-up call to American leaders.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Following up on The Rise of the Creative Class (2002), Florida argues that if America continues to make it harder for some of the world's most talented students and workers to come here, they'll go to other countries eager to tap into their creative capabilities-as will American citizens fed up with what they view as an increasingly repressive environment. He argues that the loss of even a few geniuses can have tremendous impact, adding that the "overblown" economic threat posed by large nations such as China and India obscures all the little blows inflicted upon the U.S. by Canada, Scandinavia, New Zealand and other countries with more open political climates. Florida lays his case out well and devotes a significant portion of this polemical analysis to defending his earlier book's argument regarding "technology, talent, and tolerance" (i.e. that together, they generate economic clout, so the U.S. should be more progressive on gay rights and government spending). He does so because that book contains what he sees as the way out of the dilemma-a new American society that can "tap the full creative capabilities of every human being." Even when he drills down to less panoramic vistas, however, Florida remains an astute observer of what makes economic communities tick, and he's sure to generate just as much public debate on this new twist on brain drain. 25-city radio tour. Agent, Susan Schulman. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
This well-written book has a simple thesis: the key to economic growth is innovation, and the key to innovation is properly encouraged human talent. The United States, Florida argues, is in the process of losing its preeminence as a destination for talent from around the world and is underinvesting in potential talent at home — partly as a result of heavy-handed post-September 11 immigration restrictions, partly because of the attractions of other countries and cities. Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dublin, Sydney, Wellington, and Toronto, among others, are drawing in energetic talent from around the world. In Florida's view, the key threat to the United States is not China or India; it is losing out to other places that will become the centers of innovation in the future world economy. (In his "global creativity index," based on measures of technology, talent, and tolerance — the last because creative environments must tolerate people who think differently from the way the dominant group does — the United States ranks fourth, behind Sweden, Japan, and Finland.) He proposes a two-pronged response: the United States should once again become more hospitable to foreign students and intellectuals — indeed, to foreigners possessing any skills — and it should do much more to develop the creative capacity of its indigenous population, particularly the 70 percent of the labor force not currently engaged in creative activities, with a strong emphasis, naturally, on transforming the educational system.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060756901
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/12/2005
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Author of the bestselling The Rise of the Creative Class and Who's Your City? Richard Florida is a regular columnist for The Atlantic. He has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and other publications. His multiple awards and accolades include the Harvard Business Review's Breakthrough Idea of the Year. He was named one of Esquire magazine's Best and Brightest (2005) and one of BusinessWeek's Voices of Innovation (2006). He lives in Toronto, Canada.

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Read an Excerpt

The Flight of the Creative Class
The New Global Competition for Talent

Chapter One

The Flight of the Creative Class

Nothing is more revealing than movement.
...Martha Graham (1894...1991),
dancer and choreographer

In March of 2003, I had the opportunity to meet Peter Jackson, the Academy Award...winning director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, at his film complex in lush, green, otherworldly Wellington, New Zealand. Jackson has done something unlikely in Wellington, a smallish but exciting cosmopolitan city of roughly 400,000, and one certainly not previously considered a global cultural capital. He has built a permanent facility there that is considered one of the world's most sophisticated filmmaking complexes. And he did it in New Zealand for a reason.

Jackson, a Wellington native, realized what many American cities discovered during the 1990s: that paradigm-busting creative industries could single-handedly change the way cities flourish while driving dynamic and widespread economic change. It took Jackson and his partners a while to raise the resources, but they eventually purchased an abandoned paint factory that, emblematic in its adaptive transformation and reuse, emerged as the studio responsible for the most breathtaking trilogy of films ever made. He realized, Jackson told me, that with the allure of the Lord of the Rings movies he would be able to attract a diverse array of creative talent from around the world, enticing the best cinematographers, costume designers, sound technicians, computer-graphic artists, model builders, editors, and animators to New Zealand.

Sure enough, during my visit to Wellington, I met dozens of Americans from universities such as the University of California at Berkeley and MIT working alongside talented filmmakers from Europe and Asia. Many had begun the process of establishing residency in New Zealand, ready to relinquish their American citizenship for what they saw as greener creative pastures. One of them, a digital wunderkind from the San Francisco Bay area, told me he was launching his new high-tech start-up in Wellington because of the technology infrastructure and environment there, which in his case created advantages that trumped even Silicon Valley. As we walked past a world map with pins stuck in employees' native countries, the head of digital animation joked that the organization looked more like the UN than a film production studio.

Think about this. In an industry synonymous with America's international economic and cultural might, film production, the single greatest project in recent cinematic history was internationally funded and crafted by the best filmmakers from around the world. But not in Hollywood.

When Hollywood produces movies, it creates jobs for directors, actors, and key grips in California. Because of the astounding level of technical innovation required by films of Rings' magnitude ...in areas from computer graphics and animation to sound design ...such a project also germinates whole new companies, and even new nationwide industries. George Lucas's Star Wars films, for instance, almost singlehandedly sparked the advancement of everything from video games to product tie-in marketing. The lion's share of economic benefits from the Rings trilogy, though, is likely to accrue not to the United States but to New Zealand. In an equally mighty display of economic irony, Jackson's remake of King Kong is also being put together in Wellington, with a budget running upward of $150 million.

Peter Jackson's accomplishment in tiny Wellington hasn't factored into any of the ongoing debates over global economic competitiveness. But the United States of America is now facing its greatest challenge since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. This challenge has little to do with business costs and even less with manufacturing prowess. And, no, the main competitive threats are not China or India. Our country ...for generations known around the world as the land of opportunity and innovation ...may well be on the verge of losing its creative competitive edge.

The core of this challenge is what I've come to see as the new global competition for talent, a phenomenon that promises to radically reshape the world in the coming decades. No longer will economic might amass in countries according to their natural resources, manufacturing excellence, military dominance, or even scientific and technological prowess. Today, the terms of competition revolve around a central axis: a nation's ability to mobilize, attract, and retain human creative talent. Every key dimension of international economic leadership, from manufacturing excellence to scientific and technological advancement, will depend on this ability.

This new global competition for talent creates a serious threat to the United States' long-standing economic hegemony on three overlapping fronts. First, a wide range of countries around the world are increasing their ability to compete for global talent. Second, the United States is undermining its own ability to compete for that talent. And third, the U.S. is failing to cultivate and harness the full creative capabilities of its own people in ways that position it to compete effectively.

The global talent pool and the high-end, high-margin creative industries that used to be the sole province of the U.S. and the crucial source of its prosperity have begun to disperse around the globe. A host of countries ...Ireland, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand among them ...are investing in higher education, producing creative people, and churning out cutting-edge products, from cellular phones to computer software to blockbuster movies. Many of them have learned from the United States' success and are shoring up their efforts to attract foreign talent ...including Americans. If even a few of these rising nations draw away, say, 2 percent each of America's creative workforce, the effect on our economy will be enormous. The United States may well have been the Goliath of the twentiethcentury global economy, but it will take just a half-dozen twenty- first-century Davids to begin to wear it down.

The Flight of the Creative Class
The New Global Competition for Talent
. Copyright © by Richard Florida. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

1 The flight of the creative class 1
2 Creativity matters 25
3 The open society 66
4 The closing of America? 93
5 The new competitors 133
6 Regions on the rise 158
7 Creative class war 185
8 Divided we fall 206
9 Building a creative society 233
App. A Global creativity by the numbers 271
App. B Measuring the class divide 281
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First Chapter

The Flight of the Creative Class
The New Global Competition for Talent

Chapter One

The Flight of the Creative Class

Nothing is more revealing than movement.
-- Martha Graham (1894–1991),
dancer and choreographer

In March of 2003, I had the opportunity to meet Peter Jackson, the Academy Award–winning director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, at his film complex in lush, green, otherworldly Wellington, New Zealand. Jackson has done something unlikely in Wellington, a smallish but exciting cosmopolitan city of roughly 400,000, and one certainly not previously considered a global cultural capital. He has built a permanent facility there that is considered one of the world's most sophisticated filmmaking complexes. And he did it in New Zealand for a reason.

Jackson, a Wellington native, realized what many American cities discovered during the 1990s: that paradigm-busting creative industries could single-handedly change the way cities flourish while driving dynamic and widespread economic change. It took Jackson and his partners a while to raise the resources, but they eventually purchased an abandoned paint factory that, emblematic in its adaptive transformation and reuse, emerged as the studio responsible for the most breathtaking trilogy of films ever made. He realized, Jackson told me, that with the allure of the Lord of the Rings movies he would be able to attract a diverse array of creative talent from around the world, enticing the best cinematographers, costume designers, sound technicians, computer-graphic artists, model builders, editors, and animators to New Zealand.

Sure enough, during my visit to Wellington, I met dozens of Americans from universities such as the University of California at Berkeley and MIT working alongside talented filmmakers from Europe and Asia. Many had begun the process of establishing residency in New Zealand, ready to relinquish their American citizenship for what they saw as greener creative pastures. One of them, a digital wunderkind from the San Francisco Bay area, told me he was launching his new high-tech start-up in Wellington because of the technology infrastructure and environment there, which in his case created advantages that trumped even Silicon Valley. As we walked past a world map with pins stuck in employees' native countries, the head of digital animation joked that the organization looked more like the UN than a film production studio.

Think about this. In an industry synonymous with America's international economic and cultural might, film production, the single greatest project in recent cinematic history was internationally funded and crafted by the best filmmakers from around the world. But not in Hollywood.

When Hollywood produces movies, it creates jobs for directors, actors, and key grips in California. Because of the astounding level of technical innovation required by films of Rings' magnitude -- in areas from computer graphics and animation to sound design -- such a project also germinates whole new companies, and even new nationwide industries. George Lucas's Star Wars films, for instance, almost singlehandedly sparked the advancement of everything from video games to product tie-in marketing. The lion's share of economic benefits from the Rings trilogy, though, is likely to accrue not to the United States but to New Zealand. In an equally mighty display of economic irony, Jackson's remake of King Kong is also being put together in Wellington, with a budget running upward of $150 million.

Peter Jackson's accomplishment in tiny Wellington hasn't factored into any of the ongoing debates over global economic competitiveness. But the United States of America is now facing its greatest challenge since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. This challenge has little to do with business costs and even less with manufacturing prowess. And, no, the main competitive threats are not China or India. Our country -- for generations known around the world as the land of opportunity and innovation -- may well be on the verge of losing its creative competitive edge.

The core of this challenge is what I've come to see as the new global competition for talent, a phenomenon that promises to radically reshape the world in the coming decades. No longer will economic might amass in countries according to their natural resources, manufacturing excellence, military dominance, or even scientific and technological prowess. Today, the terms of competition revolve around a central axis: a nation's ability to mobilize, attract, and retain human creative talent. Every key dimension of international economic leadership, from manufacturing excellence to scientific and technological advancement, will depend on this ability.

This new global competition for talent creates a serious threat to the United States' long-standing economic hegemony on three overlapping fronts. First, a wide range of countries around the world are increasing their ability to compete for global talent. Second, the United States is undermining its own ability to compete for that talent. And third, the U.S. is failing to cultivate and harness the full creative capabilities of its own people in ways that position it to compete effectively.

The global talent pool and the high-end, high-margin creative industries that used to be the sole province of the U.S. and the crucial source of its prosperity have begun to disperse around the globe. A host of countries -- Ireland, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand among them -- are investing in higher education, producing creative people, and churning out cutting-edge products, from cellular phones to computer software to blockbuster movies. Many of them have learned from the United States' success and are shoring up their efforts to attract foreign talent -- including Americans. If even a few of these rising nations draw away, say, 2 percent each of America's creative workforce, the effect on our economy will be enormous. The United States may well have been the Goliath of the twentiethcentury global economy, but it will take just a half-dozen twenty- first-century Davids to begin to wear it down.

The Flight of the Creative Class
The New Global Competition for Talent
. Copyright © by Richard Florida. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2005

    Must read

    Richard Florida continues his thoughtful analysis of the creative economy in this sequel to 'The Rise of the Creative Class.' This is a must read for those concerned about the economic and cultural dynamics of the U.S. Florida provides an analysis of fairly complex and dense material- far from being a weighty tome, this book provides a compelling argument for re-evaluating U.S. foreign and domestic public policy. The economic shifts we're experiencing have seismic repercussions- Florida is a thoughtful voice in the rather contentious dialogue.

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