- Education for Innovation: Implications for India, China and America
The provision of education services is believed to lead to a number of private and public (social) benefits. Economists generally agree that the involvement of different levels of government (local, state, national) in encouraging education follows from the social benefits of education. These social benefits would include non-pecuniary items such as increased civic participation, reduced crime rates, and so on, as well as pecuniary benefits to society from economic gains.
One feature that seems to separate nations in the long term based on economic prosperity is that more economically successful nations, such as the United States, tend to be better than other nations at engaging in innovative activities. The theoretical importance of innovation in encouraging economic growth dates back to the work by economist Joseph Schumpeter (1939, 1950, 1961), and his work continues to spur additional research into the importance of innovation in society (Cantner, Dinopoulos, & Lanzillotti, 2005).
The first decade of the 21st century has also brought about significant economic changes. As popularized by Thomas Friedman (2006), technological gains in recent years have helped to “flatten” the world by allowing people to more easily participate in the global economy regardless of location. This trend is particularly important for China and India, two of the world’s most populous nations. China is also undergoing significant social changes as the nation strives to expand higher education opportunities for its citizens.
Regardless of their history and political structure, the United States, China, and India are all wrestling with the question of how to position themselves to succeed in the emerging world economy. Will the most successful nations continue to be those who are the most innovative, and if so, how can innovation be encouraged, nurtured, and developed?
It is within this framework that Education for Innovation: Implications for India, China and America was written. Edited by Robert L. DeHaan and K. M. Venkat Narayan, the volume emerged from papers presented at an international conference on Education for Innovation at Emory University in March 2007. The contributors include an impressive list of academics from wide-ranging backgrounds including economics, physics, educational psychology, biology, and sociology. All contributors, however, share a professional interest in examining the connection between innovation and economic growth and the possible role that education can play in developing innovation.
The book is divided into two sections. The chapters in the first section of the book focus on how innovation promotes economic growth. The data presented in this section effectively make the case that, while the United States currently enjoys the position of world leader in innovation, other nations such as China and India with their large populations and potential for growth are steadily increasing their capacity to become innovative leaders in the world. The information presented in these chapters shows that the United States is gradually losing its role as world leader in research and development (R&D) and innovative activity.
The second section of the book deals with how education can be used to promote innovation. The [End Page 436] chapters in Part 2 examine the impact of culture on higher education, how education can help impart creativity and innovative thinking in students, and how education might better focus on increasing innovation.
The book has several major strengths that should enable it to contribute to the growing literature on innovation and education. The international perspective on innovation and education is a refreshing change from the preponderance of studies that examine the topic from only the perspective of the United States. The focus on three nations—China, India, and the United States—provides important insights into how and why these countries find themselves at different positions in the world economy, yet sharing an interest in the same topic. The breadth of material covered in the 12 chapters helps the reader appreciate the enormous scope of the topic and the challenges that one faces when tackling this line of inquiry. Finally, the...