Posted November 1st, 2010
This is one in a series of blog posts by NYU-Poly President Jerry M. Hultin for The Economist’s new Ideas Economy website.
Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chancellors and governments across the globe are being torn by a very modern dilemma. Are the true interests of a nation’s economic well-being served best by investing and stimulating growth and jobs in the incumbent economy? Or should they invest our finite resources in the skills and infrastructure of the new, evolving economy?
This is more than the classic ant and grasshopper contest: That fable focused solely on near-term survival. By contrast, since the 18th century, investments in science, technology and related expertise have been the key to substantial growth and wealth for many nations and individuals. This has created a new obligation for leaders not only to manage the current organization, but to place substantial bets on the unknown future.
Consider academia. Today, college and university leaders hear parents and students increasingly question the return on education compared to its cost. Few academic leaders in the United States believe that the tuition increases of the past decades can be sustained, yet deep change eludes us. In the academic neighborhood where I work (science, engineering and technology), the competition between now and next confronts me in at least three ways.