Separating Innovation and Production

24 Dec ’06

From the NYT, a short blurb on an aspect of offshoring that has always troubled me: over the long run, can invention and design be separated from production? As I’ve understood the theory, the answer was supposed to be yes – industrialized economies would remain the brains of the operation, and the brawn would be moved to lower cost locations. But creativity, it has always seemed to me, first requires an intensive familiarity with the nuts and bolts. Only then can one abstract oneself to the degree required to see the bigger picture and innovate. And so I’ve often wondered; by offshoring production, are we inevitably offshoring innovation too? (Ghastly realization: if we do, what’s left will be bankers, advertisers, lawyers and masseurs. Is this a world worth living in?).

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