Obama: The Creative Class President?

Last Updated Nov 26, 2008 9:23 AM EST

  • Obama: The Creative Class President?The Find: Barack Obama's victory represents the triumph of the creative class, and that doesn't bode well for old line manufacturers and agribusiness, argues one prominent academic and author.
  • The Source: An article by Joel Kotkin, the director of the Urban Futures Program at Chapman University and author of The City: A Global History, on NewGeography.com.
The Takeaway: Pundits of all stripes are working around the clock trying to sort out what Obama's historic victory means, and Kotkin is adding his voice to the chatter, arguing that Obama's ascendancy bodes well for what author Richard Florida dubbed "the creative class" and poorly for US-based manufacturers and agribusiness.

Florida, famous for his books The Rise of the Creative Class and Who's Your City?, has become synonymous with the argument that well-educated and socially liberal knowledge workers will drive economic growth going forward. Kotkin notes that it's just these sorts of people who are Obama's most fervent supports and who were instrumental in his victory. The creative class "clusters heavily in the very areas--college towns, urban centers, some elite suburbs--where Obama has done exceedingly well," he observes. "Obama has also enjoyed almost lock-step support in Hollywood and among the go-go wing on Wall Street."

Interesting for political scientists but what's the takeaway for managers? That depends on your industry. "Since the creative class deals largely with images, ideas and transactions, it's not likely to focus much on reviving the tangible parts of the economy: manufacturing, logistics, traditional energy and agribusiness." Couple this with the creative class's focus on environmental issues and,

All this could prove very bad news for groups that produce tangible products in the U.S. or that, like large agribusiness firms, are big consumers of carbon. Also threatened will be anyone who builds the suburban communities--notably single-family houses and malls--that most Americans still prefer but that Gore and his acolytes dismiss as too energy-intensive, not to mention in bad taste.
The recent news that Obama chided auto executives for being "tone deaf" indicates that those at the top of the car business might want to be particularly wary.

The Question: Has Obama's election made you more or less optimistic about the prospects for your company?

(Image of Barack Obama by art_es_anna, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.