Thursday, July 4, 2013

GEM Conference (20-21 June 2013)

Following DRUID, I attended a mall conference sponsored by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor team in Spain to promote the use of GEM data.

The use of GEM data is clearly evolving. One of the impressive features of conference was the increasing use of pooled data (compiling the data across a number of years and countries) to build impressively large numbers of observations.

Still a number of the papers were naive or misguided in their choice of variables.

The highlight of the day was a keynote by Professor Xavier Sala-i-Martin of Columbia university. It was nice to hear an economist focus attention on adoption of innovation not newness per se.

Day 2 brought forth a number of quite interesting papers including one on rent seeking behaviour in MENA countries and another on the role of high tech entrepreneurship across factor driven, efficiency driven and innovation driven economies.

The papers are in early stage development, so I won't reference them.

An interesting conference, but clearly to me GEM is running out of data for interesting academic work, and needs to ask bigger questions like to ones Burton was asking in her DRUID conference talk, see the previous blog for details.

DRUID Day 3 (19 June)

Today the DRUID debate was whether 'innovation systems' was still a promising line of research. Disappointingly, I felt the team arguing for 'innovation systems' gave up without much of a fight. Both teams converged on the micro-foundations of innovation being the way forward.

Watch the debate here

What profoundly disappointed me was the lack of courage. At a time of global economic crisis and massive industry disruption the innovation scholars are effectively retreating to micro-economics. We know from a century of micro-economics that it does help with macro questions. Economics lacks the unifying 'string theory' and so does innovation. With 50 per cent unemployment in host country for the conference Spain, I personally thought the debate was actually an insult to the populations that pay for academic research.

It doesn't bother me that most of the papers at DRUID were econometrics, that is the standard development of fields of research, it is the development of greater rigour and that is GOOD. BUT when I couldn't see a single paper on unemployment, macro-innovation or industry disruption I am actually angry at the direction of research in my field.

What made it worse, was the presentation by Diane Burton, a labour market economist was brilliant! It highlighted a bunch of issues about our notions of entrepreneurship - big fundamental questions that the previous debate had overlooked. It used to be that Schumpeterian researchers were the ones to ask the tough questions of the patterns of economic development. I think that is true no longer.

Watch the talk here:

Paper session.

Papers 1: evolutionary pattern of change requests to telecommunications technical standards during the 3G and early 4G development process.

Paper 2: using a classification of service innovation types (ie. that is different to product process etc) the paper mapped the changes through time as a service organisation changed one service which then led to another change etc etc... Seemed interesting and I will probably read the paper.

Paper 3. Entrepreneurship, market novelty, econometrics.

DRUID Day 2 (18 June)

I had intending posting updates as the conference progressed but that didn't happen, still the summaries are worthwhile.

The debate of the first day was on whether financial performance measures lead to poor strategic decisions.
Watch it here.

The highlight of day 2 was the DRUID debate on scientific fraud. The examples are breathtaking and it seems the situation is getting worse. This is the first time I have opening heard serious criticism of the metrics of academia and how these are probably creating the perverse incentives behind fraud. In some European countries in an effort to get the paper count in A journals up, authors are paid CASH bonuses.

Watch the debate here, it is a vitally important issue.

The plenary for day 2 was interesting, but I am not that much into exploitation/exploration issues.

Papers. I only attended 1 parallel session.

Paper 1: Entrepreneurship, local knowledge, Italy, Econometrics.
Paper 2: Global (Regional) Entrepreneurship Development Index - uses GEM and other data to map entrepreneurship system in countries or regions.
Paper 3: Structural change, skill cohesion, individuals employed at plants at the municipality level in Sweden (this was my top pick of the conference papers).

Day 2 result - avoided econometrics and 'high technology' papers successfully.