Kotkin: Back to Basics

December 7, 2009

I have been organizing all my notes and material, and I have found the very first notes. That was from my first day as  a PhD student when I went to a presentation of Joel Kotkin. As I explain it was partly done as a presentation to try to neutralize the influence of Richard Florida and the creative class theories, in the Danish local planning and economic development.  It was a good start for me.

Looking at the notes I google some of his words, and got it.

The decline of cities and regions come from:

  • Inability to absorb newcomers
  • Lack of upward mobility
  • Inattention to basic infrastructure
  • Lack of shared common culture
  • Decline of Family

Here is the link of his presentation (Back To Basics: A Return to the Essentials of Urban Growth)

This five points, according to Kotkin, are interesting. I agree to some extent with them. Regarding the first one, I wrote a paper for a PhD course in Economic Geography, and my conclussion was basically the same. Although I don’t think I was remembering him. Concerning the other points, I think he basically cut and pasted the conclussions from the U.S. and put it in Denmark. I already said that in the post in April 2008, though. But, anyways I find it interesting his thesis. I found a more updated presentation, from Sept. 2009. After the Bubble: Back to Basics. Coping with Hard TimesBack. I think the title is very appropriate, as I look back at my basic notes.

A few days ago, I joined the Workshop Institutions, Innovation and Development. I missed some sessions, but overall I can say it was an outstanding activity. I enjoyed the paper of Lundvall et al. on how looking at the systems of innovation, this was presented by Cristina Chaminade (she’s from Spain too!). The following discussion seemed very stimulating too.
Also J. Fansberg made an engaging presentation of his findings, linking the relationship between some indicators and economic development. Education, Finance, Tech, and other usual suspects were there. Two that seemed interesting to me were the importance of social cohesion (trust, tolerance, civic engagement, etc.) and that “openess to trade” has no relationship with economic development. As he said that’s a blow to the Washington Consensus. There were other geographical and sociological indicators that I would not mention until are published. But I would say that they were quite controversial.
Overall there were good presentations as you can see in the link I provided above. But probably the best one was the one form Carlota Perez. (another Spanish one!, ok Venezuela)
She focused on the financial crisis linked to her famous techno-economic paradigms. I included some of these graphs in a paper conference I participated a year ago. It’s still so relevant that I’m going to put her whole presentation, this was for and ICT conference in San Francisco. The one she did last week in this workshop focused more on the financial aspects, such as the “financial casino” vs. “real wealth creation”. As J. Fansberg pointed out, it can not be a coincidence that we have at the same time all these crises all across the public and private sector, including for example the car industry. We’re in a turning point in history. You can see slides 24-27 to better have a picture.

julien 2007
I’m co-teaching the class of “Theories of the Firm and of Entrepreneurship” with Søren Kerndrup. Actually he’s the professor and I’m the apprentice. He always has the right readings, and suggested this book for the two classes I teach. This class is directed for engineers or geographers without a limited education on economics and business studies. So, my job is trying to teach them some of it, and I think this book is very good to do that.
I was about to comment on this book in Amazon, but I had cold feet when I saw that no one has commented yet, and I did not want to do it anonymously. This is what I was going to say:

4 starts (out of 5)
Title: Thorough & objective about entrepreneurship and local development
Text: In my opinion Julien gets to the core of entrepreneurship with this book. He presents theoretical concepts in a clear way and it’s probably one of the best books to understand entrepreneurship. I don’t fully agree with some of the conclusions of the book, but he has really made me think about many things I had never considered. Overall very good.

By the way, you can find it in Google books or even better in Scribd, which is REALLY nice in order to cut and paste the graphs for the power point presentations (using ctrl+prt sc and pasting it in microsoft paint).

This semester I’m not teaching too much, compared with the last semester when I thought a dozen of classes. This is nice as I can concentrate more on the PhD project.