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    Turkey is talent-deprived…

    Ozan Acar09 October 2013 - Okunma Sayısı: 2362

    First a note: “Creativity” is the unearthing valuable ideas, “creative” is an individual who has such ideas, and “creative country” is a country that is conducive to the flourishing of creative people.

    Turkey is not a country where valuable ideas flourish. Turkey’s people are not creative, and the ones who are, prefer to live abroad. Is this out of an inherited disorder? Not really. This is because Turkey’s ecosystem does not promote creativity. Let me tell you why.

    Creativity brings happiness

    Creative ideas are what make possible good movies, devoured books, touching tunes, new cures to diseases, groundbreaking technologies, high-quality public services, successful government, efficient political opposition, livable cities, and anything good that you can name. Peace and development unfolds where new things can be said. In such countries people smile more and cry less.

    Places where the norm is a strict adherence to traditional discourses and methods in all aspects of life are dominated by boredom and dissatisfaction, on the other hand. And development is only possible in case the country in question is rich in God-given natural resources. In countries as such, people cry more and smile less.

    Is creativity measurable?

    The Martin Prosperity Institute of Rotman Business School releases creativity scores of countries. The study is accessible at this link. Being an intangible concept, the method used to measure creativity might not satisfy everyone to the same extent; still it is hard to completely reject it. I believe that it is a good attempt for cross country comparisons.

    Let me cut it short and switch to what the index tells us. It has three components:

    • Talent: Talent score increases as the shares of university graduates and creative industries’ employment in total employment increases.
    • Technology: Creativity scores of countries increase as the R&D to GDP ratio, share of human resources devoted to R&D and number of patents grow.
    • Tolerance: Creativity is positively related with the share of population who believes where they live is a good place for people from diverse ethnic and religious identities as well as for gays and lesbians.

    Northern European countries dominate the top 5 in creativity (see the Table), Sweden ranks first. Sweden is followed by the USA, and Australia also appears among the top 5. The common features of these are that they value R&D, and have well-educated human capital, massive employment in creative sectors, and citizens who tolerate diversities. By internalizing tolerance as well as maintaining education systems that place emphasis on quality, these countries attract the most talented people of all around the world regardless of religion, nation or race.

    Southeastern Asian countries in general have the lowest creativity scores. These lack technology, well-educated human capital, and tolerance to differences, and have low shares of people working in creativity-driven industries. They rely on cheap labor or foreign aids. And the people with the highest levels of educational attainment leave their country for rich ones as soon as they get the chance. Alike, foreign visitors spend time in secure zones avoiding mingling with local people, and leave the country as soon as they do what they had come for.

    And Turkey …

    Turkey ranks 68th among 82 countries on the list.

    Problems are observed concerning all three components of the index. Shortcomings concerning technology and talent are well-pronounced and effort is paid to overcome these: R&D expenditures are on the rise and new universities are opened one after another. True, R&D efforts generate Turkish coffeemaker and new universities generate unemployed young people, but that’s not my focus today. I want to draw attention to tolerance issue.

    Turkey performs much worse in tolerance index than in the other two components of creativity: 18th from the bottom amongst 82 countries, one place above Georgia and one place below Kyrgyzstan. We do not want people from different religious and/or ethnic group or sexual orientation around of us. We marginalize people and cannot make use of the creative potential ignited by differences. Having an entrenched prejudice towards the other, we badger people who feel differently.

    Famous with his thoughts on creativity, Ken Robinson argues that everyone is born creative but creativity dies down as they grow older. And the pace and level of this depends on the country. Some have a conducive environment for nurturing creativity while the environment undermines the creative potential in some others. Turkey, unfortunately, is in the second group.

    Table: Creativity Scores of the Top 5, Bottom 5 and Turkey


    Source: Creativity and Prosperity: The Global Creativity Index, Rotman Prosperity Institute

    * Ozan Acar, Economic Studies, Analyst