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What Happened to the ‘Innovation, Disruption, Technology’ Dividend?

How Patient Should We Be In Waiting for the Tech Productivity Dividend?

For years we have been regaled with prospects of outsized productivity increases in the United States such as those that actually accompanied the Industrial Revolution, the Second World War, and the period from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s. During another productivity bonanza, the one that extended from 1995 to about 2005, we speculated in one of these first columns on the possibility that organizations producing new information technologies would anchor a New Economy (note the capitalization), one that defied the old rules for productivity, income increases, and economic growth.

We are told by widely-quoted scholars such as Erik Brynholfsson and Andrew McAfee that innovation and new information technologies are creating a "second machine age" that holds the key to an even brighter future. Others predict that "disruption," perhaps the most overworked term in business English today, will foster competition, make long-term strategic planning a questionable management activity, and bring new ideas to market with increasing speed.

The facts are that the expected productivity increases so critical to wage and economic growth haven't occurred, at least not in the US. We've waited for at least a decade for this new era of information innovation to yield dividends. Why haven't they? Which of the explanations for this make the most sense to you?.....

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