The concept of innovation as a “good thing” is seldom questioned. After all, there is no doubt that innovation and invention create the foundations for much of our growth and economic prosperity.

But what about the distributional benefits?  Who wins? Who loses?  Among women and African Americans, what are the patterns and determinants in terms of patents, commercialization, and overall economic success relative to other groups in American society? Are there social and professional networks that are more salient for commercial activity than others? If so, do these vary by gender and race?

Race in particular is a subject seldom touched on in this area, and in the interview above Lisa Cook of Michigan State University explores the issue in a very forthright manner.

In addition, we discuss the issues surrounding Detroit’s bankruptcy and the broader political implications for cities across the country. Of particular interest are the questions of how to deal with finance, how to raise money for schools, how to sustain a tax base and revenue to continue to ensure a municipality’s ongoing vitality, and, most significantly, how the benefits and burdens are allocated across the spectrum in the key areas of class and race. Historically these have been very explosive topics for American society, and Cook has had a front row seat in the case of Detroit, being a professor at one of the state’s leading educational institutions

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