Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Will America export its advantage?... oh get over it.....

Based on a story in the NYT on US colleges opening campuses abroad, the Managing Globalization blog askswill America export its advantage? (see blog post for link to NYT story.

I know the question is rhetorical, but it does seem a little basic. Yes, higher education in the US is one of the most coveted prizes in the world, but opening up campuses abroad is not a wholesale exportation of that prize.

First off, these foreign campuses would mainly be lecture institute rather than research institutes. A main source of US competitive advantage is the research that is generated within its boarders

These foreign campuses also provide an incredible learning experience for US students. The marketplace is global and attending school abroad is a great way for students to learn about that.

The focus of the NYT piece is on Gulf countries. US colleges in the Gulf countries play several beneficial roles there. The colleges promote cross-cultural dialog and help lay the foundation for oil-reliant countries to diversify their economies. The most dangerous state is a failed one. By helping states diversify their economies and become more stable, foreign colleges play an important role in promoting stability.

I could go on but I'll end on this final thought; the basis of US competitive advantage is multi-faceted. This is not to say that this allows the US to be complacent about protecting its competitive advantage, far from it. But it is difficult to point to one element of that competitive advantage and say if the US shares that, then all is lost.

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