Published On: Pon, pro 15th, 2014

Apple – parazit na tehnološkoj industriji SAD-a

Mnogi će se složiti da bogatstvo Amerike počiva na ostvarenju ideja i njihovu stavljanju na tržište. Profesor ekonomije sa Sveučilišta u Massachusettsu William Lazonick istražuje što je pošlo po zlu s inovacijama, a rezultate je objavio u dvama studijama pri Institutu za novo tehnološko razmišljanje. U intervjuu za Alternetobjašnjava zašto giganti poput Applea moraju stubokom promijeniti načine na koje dodjeljuju financijska sredstva i prestati odbacivati najveći faktor budućih inovacija – nas

How Huge Companies Like Apple Are Actually Parasites on America’s Tech Industry

America’s fortunes rise and fall on its ability to put ideas to work and then bring them to market.  William Lazonick, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Matt Hopkins, research associate at the Academic-Industry Research Network, have investigated what has gone wrong in America’s approach to innovation. Lazonick shares findings from two recent papers that are part of the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s project on the  Political Economy of Distribution. He explains why successful companies like Apple need to make fundamental changes to the way they allocate resources and stop throwing away America’s most valuable asset for future innovation — you.
Lynn Parramore: Let’s talk about where high-quality, low-cost technology products actually come from. Who pays for the research that goes into creating a product like the iPhone?
William Lazonick: The iPhone didn’t just magically appear out of the Apple campus in Cupertino. Whenever a company produces a technology product, it benefits from an accumulation of knowledge created by huge numbers of people outside the company, many of whom have worked in government-funded projects over the previous decades. Öner Tulum, a researcher at the  Academic-Industry Research Network (theAIRnet), has shown how all of the technologies in the iPhone —things like touch-screen technology, GPS, and so on—originated with government spending, funded by taxpayer money.
That’s why a company like Apple should be using a substantial portion of its super-profits to support government investment in the next generation of innovation. Instead, the company runs an entire division devoted to finding ways to  avoid taxation.
LP: Your work shows how the process of developing high-tech products has changed in recent decades and how the fruits of success are distributed. Who is reaping the rewards of high-tech innovation in today’s economy?
WL: If you were an employee in the “Old Economy” business model that was dominant in high-tech companies coming into the 1980s, you got to share in the success of innovation through a stable job, salary increases, and retirement security. Under a “retain-and-reinvest” allocation regime, a company reinvested profits in your capabilities and worked to keep your valuable human assets. You, then, would contribute to innovation by engaging in collective and cumulative learning about the company’s proprietary technologies, many of which had been developed in its corporate research labs. The pay of top executives was largely tied to the gains shared with the mass of salaried employees. IBM in the mainframe era is a prime example; through the 1980s the company had an explicit policy of “lifelong employment,” bragging that it had never laid off an employee involuntarily since 1921.
When “open systems” in information-and-communication technologies (ICT) came along in the 1980s, exemplified by IBM’s PC with its Microsoft operating system and Intel microprocessor, things changed. Older employees who were skilled and versed in a company’s proprietary technologies got pushed aside in favor of younger workers with the latest open-systems skills. Old Economy companies now had to compete for talent with “New Economy” startups that used stock options to convince high-tech workers to give up secure employment with the established companies. Top executives began to embrace a new and strange ideology: a company should be run not for its products and employees, but for its shareholders, even though these shareholders merely bought and sold the company’s stock and contributed nothing to the success of the company. In the  name of shareholder value, these executives could avoid the uncertain process of investing in people, the source of all innovation.
In this new regime, executive pay became increasingly stock-based, rewarding top executives for the company’s stock-price performance, no matter how it was achieved. Executives got quick boosts to company profits by laying off experienced, and more expensive, employees, especially when the shift to open systems made their existing skills apparently obsolete. And a prime way of jacking up earnings per share was to do massive stock buybacks, a practice that was sanctioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1982.