Quality Magazine

Americans Concerned About Innovation Leadership

June 22, 2009

ARLINGTON, VA-Americans believe that innovation leadership is important, but they are concerned about American innovation in a more competitive international environment, according to a survey by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). Forty-three percent said remaining the innovation leaders of the world is most important to our future success. This compares to military leadership (14 percent), economy size (23 percent), and having the dollar continue to be the world’s de facto currency (11 percent).

The economic survey, conducted by Zogby International, found that Americans are concerned about the impact of innovation on our debt (92 percent), educational system (73 percent), and policymakers grasp of the importance of innovation (only 17 percent think US policymakers have the best grasp compared to other countries). The survey was released as CEA announced a new national grassroots “Innovation Movement” to focus US policies on advancing innovation with the goal of ensuring continued US global economic leadership.

While Americans clearly see innovation as vital, they are unsure if the US is keeping pace with increased competition from new global economic powers, and they are foremost concerned that the rising national debt will impair the ability of the US to remain an economic leader:

  • Only one in five Americans (21 percent) believe the U.S. is creating the best environment for innovation. Nearly half chose Japan or China.

  • More than one in three Americans (36 percent) believe that the U.S. will lose its innovative advantage and take a backseat to China.

  • Seventy-three percent of Americans do not believe that the U.S. educational system is best equipped to develop innovative leaders.

  • Ninety-two percent of Americans said that the U.S. national debt, currently at $11 trillion, will affect our nation’s long-term ability to remain an economic leader. The debt is projected to reach $20 trillion by 2015.

    “Innovation is in our DNA-it’s part of our culture. The American public is concerned that our country is losing the innovative and entrepreneurial recipe that drives U.S. economic growth and prosperity,” says Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA. “That is why we need a grassroots movement to make innovation the center of national policy debates. Whether it is health care, energy, taxes or even how our companies are organized, we must ensure that US policies promote innovation that generates American jobs.

    As Congress debates legislation to end workers’ right to a secret ballot when deciding whether to unionize, Americans are also concerned about the role unions may play in hindering innovation. According to the survey, 57 percent of Americans believe the union movement has hindered innovation, and 60 percent said innovation was less likely to occur if a company was unionized.

    The survey also provided insight into why innovation has been such an important part of the American culture:

  • Thirty-five percent of Americans said the US economy has been so innovative over the last century because innovators can reap rewards. Fifteen percent said it was due to having the most innovative workforce, while 13 percent said it was due to a culture that allows failure.

  • Seventy-three percent of Americans say it’s the entrepreneurs who create and build companies who are driving innovation. Large companies that invest in research and development garnered 15 percent, while five percent believe it’s the policymakers who make spending and tax decisions who drive innovation.

  • Americans point to the US remaining an innovation leader, more than anything else, as most important to the country’s future success. Forty-three percent said “remaining an innovation leader” was most important, while 23 percent said the “largest economy” and 14 percent said, “remaining the military leader.”

    The CEA Innovation Movement includes a checklist to evaluate proposed legislation, looking at whether the proposal does the following:

  • Create American jobs?
  • Spur new technology?
  • Encourage the best and the brightest to come to the US and stay here?
  • Reward innovation and investment?
  • Promote exports?
  • Foster productivity and energy efficiency?

    For more information, visit www.CE.org.