Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Orly Lobel's "Talent Wants to Be Free"

Orly Lobel is the Don Weckstein Professor of Law and founding member of the Center for Intellectual Property Law and Markets at the University of San Diego. She is the author of several books and numerous articles on behavioral law and economics, innovation policy, human capital, regulation and governance. A world traveler and internationally acclaimed scholar, Lobel has taught at Yale, Harvard, Tel-Aviv, and UCSD.

Lobel applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Talent Wants to Be Free: Why We Should Learn to Love Leaks, Raids, and Free Riding, and reported the following:
Page 99 introduces the paradox of ethical market competition – we all want freewheeling fierce market battles but at the same time fear “the law of the jungle.” So page 99 asks, how do we draw the lines between honest commercial practices and unfair information leaks? Between healthy observation of one’s competitor and economic espionage? Between company proprietary information and free knowledge? Toward the end of page 99, I explain that precisely because of the moralistic tone embedded in the definition of trade secrets, they present unusual challenges and tensions, beyond those of any other area of intellectual property. Trade secrets are the workhorse of the information economy but they are also deeply misunderstood and if we don’t watch out we risk expanding the scope of secrecy in ways that will harm our quest for innovation and progress.

This core insight about the need to remain focused on the prize – on what actually motivates creativity, inventiveness, and performance, rather than stifling and stagnating our markets, threads throughout Talent Wants to Be Free. At every turn, we have to make sure we haven’t lost sight of our ultimate goals as we wage the war for talent and innovation. The book challenges orthodox economic assumptions and irrationalities and uncovers the best strategies for recruiting, nurturing, incentivizing and retaining talent. The book looks at how we fight over ideas, knowledge, and skill in every industry, profession, and region, examining the spread of non-competes, NDAs, patent and copyright pre-invention assignments, performance-based pay, and enhanced job mobility, and offers insights on how to best balance secrecy & sharing, carrots & sticks, freedom & control. Through empirical research, fascinating stories of invention and market battles, and insights from economics, psychology, law, and business, it argues that more frequently than we have come to believe, everyone - corporations, individuals, industries, and regions - benefits when talent is set free.
Learn more about the book and author at Orly Lobel's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue