HBR 10:26 AM Monday February 27, 2012 by Roger Martin

The U.S. jobs data referenced in this post/study further supports the need for incorporating Arts into STEM education – for allowing creative, innovative thinking in technical fields.

In order to tackle its competitiveness challenges, America needs to harness the inherent creativity of its workforce. It is making progress in the right direction but needs to push the pace.

Michael Porter has done us all a service in identifying that the wealth of modern economies comes from the productivity, innovation and high wages found in their clustered industries — those industries that are found only in certain geographic areas and trade most of their output outside their home areas, both nationally and internationally. Wages in these clustered industries (like pharmaceuticals or business services) are dramatically higher than in dispersed industries (like primary medical care or consumer services).

To deepen the picture of the economy created by Porter, Richard Florida and I decided to explore the patterns of wages by job content across clustered and dispersed industries. By job content we mean in particular whether the job requires independent decision-making and judgment or instead requires following preset guidelines for action.

Of course no job is completely robotic — otherwise it would be performed by a robot. But we were able to classify all jobs as either creativity-oriented or routine-oriented. And within the routine-oriented classification, there are three distinct types: routine-physical (e.g. an auto assembly plant worker); routine-service (e.g. an accounts payable clerk); and routine-resource (e.g. a coal miner).  More…