Creativity, Clusters and Why Your Barista Has Mixed Feelings About You
And Why Your Barista Has Mixed Feelings About You
Nearly half of the workforce is stuck in low and declining-wage employment, virtually guaranteeing the continued stagnation of the middle class.
cemented in the American zeitgeist, four milIN A MORNING RITUAL lion Americans get their cup of coffee at Starbucks. But among those who receive their morning pick-me-up every day, do any stop to ask the question, ‘Who serves the barista?’
Certainly, the barista seems to be paying attention. And for what seems like the first time in a long while, an influential political candidate has paid attention, too. Mirroring the growing number of news stories highlighting America’s growing inequality, Bernie Sanders’ popularity remained steadfastly throughout the entire Democratic Party primary season in the face of the ‘establishment candidacy’ of Hillary Clinton. Despite low unemployment, low interest rates, and high per capita productivity, everyday people in cities all over the U.S. dramatically protested an unjust system.
To understand the current malcontent among baristas — and much of the U.S. electorate — we must first describe two elements of work: industries and occupations. In doing so, we will explore the intersection of these two elements and the patterns that develop. What quickly emerges is a model of discrete winners and losers in the modern economy.
To prosper in the global economy, every region and industry must boost the creative content of all types of work.
Industries vs. Occupations
To begin, it is important to understand the difference between industries and occupations. An occupation can be accomplished in many industries, and an industry is composed of many occupations. Accountancy is an occupation, but each industry, whether hospitality or manufacturing, needs accountants.
Industries differ in more ways than just the occupations that comprise them. Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter played a pivotal role in the study of industries — which led to the understanding that the co-location of firms can have broader implications for the prosperity of regions. In his work on competitiveness, he classified industries into two types: local industries and traded clusters.
The industries that form traded clusters produce goods and services that flow across borders. The borders don’t need to be national borders where the output is counted as international trade; they could be as modest as a neighbouring town or region. The important part about traded clusters is that they are formed by connected industries in close geographical proximity. This web of firms, suppliers, academic institutions and local