The Talent Commons: Human Capital and Collective Knowledge Creation

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"Human capital is a dynamic self-replenishing resource. Unlike other natural resources which are endangered by overuse, pollution, and free riding, human capital is endangered when it is under-used, isolated, and controlled. This article studies the evolvement of our notions of human capital and how contemporary national and international policies embody the notion that not only the outputs of innovation -- artistic expressions, scientific methods, and technological advances -- can be controlled, but rather, the outputs of innovation -- people themselves, their skills, their experience, their knowledge, their professional relationships, and their potential for innovating -- are also subject to control and propertization. Intellectual property rights pertaining to job mobility and human capital -- the regimes of non-compete enforcement, post-employment restrictions including non-competition, patent and copyright assignment, and trade secrets and confidential information agreements -- are a growing frontier of market battles. They are one of the primary ways in which regional and global competition is shaped. Through mechanisms that have been the blind spots of intellectual property debates -- the expansion of regulatory and contractual controls over human capital -- skill and knowledge have become proprietary. The collective aspects of nurturing talent remain secondary and are yet to be fully understood."



social capital, human behavior