Article by Kent Walker and Jared Cohen: “Democracies across the world have been through turbulent times in recent years, as polarization and gridlock have posed significant challenges to progress. The initial spread of COVID-19 spurred chaos at the global level, and governments scrambled to respond. With uncertainty and skepticism at an all-time high, few of us would have guessed a year ago that 66 percent of Americans would have received at least one vaccine dose by now. So what made that possible?
It turns out democracies, unlike their geopolitical competitors, have a secret weapon: collective innovation. The concept of collective innovation draws on democratic values of openness and pluralism. Free expression and free association allow for cooperation and scientific inquiry. Freedom to fail leaves room for risk-taking, while institutional checks and balances protect from state overreach.
Vaccine development and distribution offers a powerful case study. Within days of the coronavirus being first sequenced by Chinese researchers, research centers across the world had exchanged viral genome data through international data-sharing initiatives. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that 75 percent of COVID-19 research published after the outbreak relied on open data. In the United States and Europe, in universities and companies, scientists drew on open information, shared research, and debated alternative approaches to develop powerful vaccines in record-setting time.
Democracies’ self- and co-regulatory frameworks have played a critical role in advancing scientific and technological progress, leading to robust capital markets, talent-attracting immigration policies, world-class research institutions, and dynamic manufacturing sectors. The resulting world-leading productivity underpins democracies’ geopolitical influence….(More)”.