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The sharing economy: Where creatives should be

EconomyIn a setting characterized by a rapidly evolving 21st century economy wherein local government operates as a public corporation, it may not be a stretch to pick up learning lessons from forward-looking for-profit corporations.

To demonstrate a concept, Palawan comes to mind. Other localities could be just as suitable. After all, the idea of a social technology-enabled (think Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) collaborative and sharing economy knows no physical boundaries.

While openness is key, the main point is that a leaderless movement could be tapped by political leaders to inform policies and get the community to work together to strengthen shared values. In this regard, the culture industry should be at the core of this movement, with social media as a common set of tools to engage people in deeper local conversation towards higher economic productivity with a global mindset.

A natural peg for development is ecotourism. In an article titled “Ecotourism in Palawan: A Case Study,” Nelson Palad Devanadera suggests, “The public sector needs to take the initiative on development of the basic infrastructure. Local manpower needs to be developed to capture the benefits of tourism development. Local government and communities need to be involved in the process of planning, investment, operation and management.”

With the culture industry as the enabler, the local community could create a sustainable tourism industry that fully capitalizes the drive to conserve traditions and the natural surroundings. This mission can be accomplished by engaging all stakeholders in developing a collaborative economy.

Jeremiah Owyang, a well-respected industry analyst and web strategist, offers interesting insights about the collaborative economy. The collaborative economy, he says, is the next phase of social business. It is “an economic model where ownership and access are shared between people, start-ups, and corporations.”

People can get what they need from each other, instead of getting it from corporations. Owyang notes with keen interest how people are “also making their own goods and products, and selling or giving it to each other, unlocking core skills that all humans in villages used to have, but not using technology to learn, share, and distribute beyond physical borders. The impact this can have to opportunity markets all across the globe can offer them new ways to generate income, share what’s valuable, and reduce their dependency on others.”

In the Philippine context, it is easy to see this kind of community sharing happening in rural areas. A food called ulam na nahihiram (dish that can be borrowed) is a shared object in the island of Lubang, south of Manila.

Some progressive companies have already followed suit, Owyang shares. “Toyota rents cars from dealership lots, and Patagonia partnered with eBay to encourage customers to buy and sell its used products. NBC has partnered with Yerdle, a start-up founded by former Walmart executives to foster peer-to-peer sharing. This movement impacts every industry,” he says.

Companies who choose to be fence-sitters risk becoming cut out by customers who connect with each other. From a local government’s perspective, this may sound like sauce for the goose being   sauce for the gander. Local government executives risk seeing citizens voting with their feet, i.e., moving to localities that promote or are friendly to the movement.

 

Now, Where Should The Creatives Be?

A separate study by Neil Lee and Andrés Rodríguez-Pose of the London School of Economics could further inform policy design in local economic development. In an article reviewing the results of the study, Richard Florida notes that it drew “connections between innovation and creative firms on the one hand, and creative workers on the other, by using six key measures of product and process innovation and extract patterns about how individual workers in creative (or culture industry) occupations contributed to firm-level innovation.”

A proponent of the “Creative Class”, Florida points out that, first off, they found that firms in creative industries were more likely to introduce original new product innovations than firms in other sectors of the economy. Second, creative workers play a substantially greater role in innovation. Third, cities especially matter in channeling the contributions of creative workers into actual innovations. An important implication is that “cities play an important role in the innovative capacities of creative workers, who play an important role in introducing new processes from other firms and industries.”

Florida concludes in his article that, “At bottom, their findings suggest the need to shift from firm-based policies to more talent-based approaches—something I have long argued for. It’s time to stop the old ‘industrial policy’ approach of subsidizing private firms and industries and focus instead on developing the broader creativity of workers. As their findings make clear, the better, more effective path to generating the kinds of innovations that underpin job creation and economic growth comes from creative workers in cities.”

Again in the local context, it may make good sense for local governments to create and sustain a creative/culture industry that invites innovation for a sustainable local economy in general, and in the case of Palawan, driven by ecotourism.

Next up: What makes creative types creative?

 

Joel C. Yuvienco is an educator, international speaker, and eLearning architecture consultant based in Manila. He was educated in Statistics and Law at the University of the Philippines, and completed his residential MBA program at the University of Liverpool, U.K. He is a strong believer in Information and Communications Technology as a potent tool to bridge cultural/generational divides. Joel now focuses on social entrepreneurship, particularly Innovative Training and Education Research. He can be reached at joel.yuvienco@gmail.com.