#WHFrontiers: Pittsburgh’s Innovation Story in Full

Free download:  “Contrasts in Innovation: Pittsburgh Then and Now,” http://ssrn.com/abstract=1858741

That’s a full and complete account of innovation and other things in Pittsburgh today, or the good, the bad, and the ugly about Pittsburgh’s continuing journey on the road to recovery post-steel collapse, economically speaking and otherwise.  Anyone coming to Pittsburgh or coming to Pittsburgh’s story via a line arguing that Pittsburgh’s innovation is in high gear and that Pittsburgh is a model region for tech, tech policy, and urban reinvention … should read further.  Good things are happening in Pittsburgh, but there is more going on – more innovation than innovation in tech, and things that aren’t so innovative and that aren’t so good – than are captured in the headlines.


A little background explains where that piece – born as a series of long blog posts, later rewritten and published in a book of academic research – came from.

Version one:  By training and profession, I research and teach about intellectual property law (specifically) and innovation and creation in the modern knowledge economy (in general) and institutions and practices that bear on information, knowledge, and culture (in the broadest sense).  Since 2004, I’ve posted from time to time to madisonian.net on law and innovation topics.  But from 2003 to 2011, I posted to a separate blog, http://pittsblog.blogspot.com/, on Pittsburgh recovery and renewal topics.  Eventually the two streams and themes converged, leading to the “Contrasts in Innovation” series and book chapter.

Version two (equally accurate, but with different emphasis):  In 2009 the G20 Summit came to Pittsburgh, accompanied both by a lot of quizzical looks and comments by national media and other observers, to the effect of “Pittsburgh?,” and a lot of shameful self-promotion by the Pittsburgh powers that be, especially in corporate PR, to the effect of “Pittsburgh!  We’ve finished that whole reinvention ‘thing,’ and we’re ready to show off!”  I was offended by the PR, because it so intentionally and obviously overlooked the continuing challenges that Pittsburgh faces, but I also thought that the PR story failed to tell a full and good story of Pittsburgh’s real progress, strengths, and opportunities.  So I wrote and wrote my version at Pittsblog, and the audience reaction was positive enough that I was invited to wrap it into a version for publication.  The proper citation is “Contrasts in Innovation:  Pittsburgh Then and Now”, in Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Evolving Economies: The Role of Law (Megan Carpenter ed.) (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012).  The book is available for purchase here:  https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/entrepreneurship-and-innovation-in-evolving-economies.