Human Capital, Cities , Economic Growth

I am re-posting this Interview I did with Soumitra Dutta for another publication.We must pay attention to some of his views.

Bio: Soumitra Dutta is the Roland Berger Chaired Professor of Business and Technology and the founder and academic director of elab, INSEAD’s center of excellence in teaching and research in the digital economy (http://elab.insead.edu). Previously he has been Dean of Executive Education (2002-2006) and Dean of External Relations (2006-2009) at INSEAD.Prior to joining the faculty of INSEAD in 1989, he was employed with Schlumberger in Japan and General Electric in the USA. Professor Dutta obtained his Ph.D. in computer science and his M.Sc. in business administration from the University of California at Berkeley. He has been a visiting Professor at several international universities including the University of California at Berkeley, Oxford and Cambridge.
He is actively involved in policy development in Europe. He is currently a member of the Advisory Committee for ICT for the Government of Qatar and has advised other national governments on ICT policy issues. He is the Chairman of the European Commission’s Europe Innova panel on Innovation in the ICT sector and a member of the Steering Committee of eBSN, the European Commission’s eBusiness Network initiative for SMEs.

How important is human capital in today’s world?

We live in a world of great ideas. In India where the large part of economy is service based, the value of ideas becomes especially important. Also, the notion of interactions becomes very important .The whole definition of the service is tar you have to interact with the producer of the service.

It’s also very important in the service economy that human capital is invested in, is skilled properly and has a right kind of an attitude. So, what I am trying to say is that you want people who are collectively more competent, who are more globally aware and globally sensitive.

What can cities do to attract the best human capital?

At a very simple level, cities need to be places that make people feel at home. And not just people of the same country but people around the world. What makes you feel at home is a number of different things. It could be about hard infrastructure of having good quality roads or clean sanitation. Culture also plays an important role. How people behave, how people react, whether other people like you, whether there is diversity – these all are very important issues. New York and London make more people feel at home. And not too many cities in the world have that ability, even if they are rich. If you look many cities in Europe, they are very rich, very clean with well built infrastructure; but in a cultural point of view, they don’t make people feel at home. There is also the soft infrastructure of the city like engaging public spaces – squares, waterfronts etc and places of culture like theatre and museums which are important.

How do you think the global cities in the world became successful?

If you look at it, there are not too many global cities; there are very few global cities. There is New York, London or Singapore. These cities are successfully attracting diversity which is very important. If you go to a city in Germany, if you are the only Indian, if you don’t find other foreigners you will not feel very comfortable.

Global cities also highlight the importance of education. People come to places where they can invest in themselves. So you want to have the feeling that, if you go to a place, you will not stagnate, so you want to keep on learning. For example, look at London, with Oxford and Cambridge around it.

Learning is of course not just in universities, but also with the good people. So if you are an architect, you want to have other world famous architects to be close to you. If you are journalist, you would like other journalists to be working close to you, because, you also learn from each People want to be challenged. They want to learn, they want to develop. I think cities really provide that place to develop and learn.

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