Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Policy for U.S. Competitiveness: Harvard Business School Looks to Boston

Recently, the U.S. Competitiveness Project at Harvard Business School brought together public, private, and academic leaders before a packed house to discuss how to create thriving globalized businesses, without sacrificing the standard of living of the average American worker. Panel discussions led by Professors Michael Porter and Jan Rivkin addressed the rise of Asia, with its low-cost manufacturing, and the difficult challenges and choices for U.S. companies that want to remain competitive on the global stage. Panelists looked at Boston, its leadership, public policy and growth in innovative industries as an example of how to adapt and thrive despite increased global competition.

Thanks to investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure, the Boston metro area has attracted, retained, and cultivated top talent and burgeoning industries such as life sciences and light manufacturing. Meanwhile, institutions like the Cambridge Innovation Center and Boston’s Innovation District foster creativity and promote entrepreneurship, ensuring that the next generation of great ideas can take hold and grow in the region. Meanwhile, a comprehensive commitment to institutional diversity and equal opportunity promote social cohesion and ensure a dynamic and competitive workforce. Combined with its world-class universities, these priorities have allowed Boston to thrive in the new economy.

Fittingly, the event closed with remarks from the man who, perhaps more than anyone else, has been responsible for keeping Boston competitive over the past twenty years and into the future, Mayor Tom Menino. Although he is not running for a sixth term, Mayor Menino displayed his trademark passion for Boston’s progress and potential. He likewise pointed to the city’s investments in education and infrastructure and raised improved public safety, specifically his efforts to combat gun violence with New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as vital to ensuring competitiveness.

The factors that have come together and allowed Boston to be competitive in the new economy are no accident, and Professors Porter and Rivkin noted the importance of committed leadership and community engagement as important ingredients in the quest to become more competitive. Whether our national leadership is prepared to meet the challenge of international competition is an open question, but the HBS Competitiveness Project can serve as a resource for elected officials and citizens alike to raise questions and offer solutions about our country’s future.

Chris Meehan

Chris Meehan,
Deputy Director, Public Affairs

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