Global Public Square

How to keep jobs in America

Harvard Business School alumni offer up ideas in a new report based on nearly 10,000 responses to a survey of 50,000 HBS grads. The report’s authors, "project directors Michael E. Porter, Lawrence University Professor and a leader in the field of corporate strategy, and Jan W. Rivkin, Rauner professor of business administration,"  write that business and government have important roles to play in keeping jobs in America:

"America’s political system, especially at the federal level, is letting us down, in ways that cut across political parties and span Presidential administrations and Congressional sessions. But it would be wrong to place either the U.S. competitiveness problem or its solution at the feet of the government. Business plays a role in creating even those problems that seem to stem from public policy. Take, for instance, America’s corporate tax code. The code is convoluted in part because government authorities have allowed it to be, but also because corporate leaders have relentlessly pushed for loopholes and subsidies that serve narrow self-interest. Part of the business agenda for U.S. competitiveness is to stop taking actions that benefit one’s own firm but, collectively, weaken America’s business environment."

"Moreover, business can and must be a positive part of the solution to America’s competitiveness problem. Individually and collectively, firms can upgrade the business environment in the communities where they operate—by supporting educational institutions, building shared infrastructure, investing in workforce skills, deepening clusters, and so on. We are not suggesting corporate charity here. In our survey, we asked each respondent what would happen to his or her company if it undertook more activities to benefit the local community. A full 22% said that the company itself would be more successful as a result. Another 72% said that their companies could do more to benefit the local community without affecting company success. Only 7% felt that doing more for the community would diminish corporate success. Untapped opportunities exist for firms to upgrade the competitiveness of their local communities, and to benefit themselves in the process."