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Leapfrogging in the News

torstar.jpgThe Toronto Star had two excellent articles about leapfrogging this last weekend, both worth checking out.

The first, "Leapfrogging the technology gap," by Alexandra Samuel, is an introduction to the concept with a particular focus on information and communication technologies. Few of the examples will come as surprises to WorldChanging readers, but the article brings together cases and observations in a useful way. Of particular note is the suggestion that leapfrog development is a result of the correlation of infrastructure improvements and economic growth. While the article discusses only telecom and (to a lesser extent) computing, the idea applies more generally. Most of the leapfrog development projects we've discussed at WorldChanging have focused on infrastructure -- energy, water, and transportation, along with telecom and Internet.

Another Star article from the same day underscores this point. "Three sectors to watch," by Tyler Hamilton, takes a look at "technologies that are helping nations jump ahead." It too gives a quick explanation of leapfrogging, but then moves in to examples across a familiar spectrum of technologies: water treatment; transportation and energy; and computing & communications. The article hits the important WorldChanging notes -- distributed generation of renewable energy, Linux and open source software as leapfrog catalysts, even LED lights.

Leapfrogging is definitely a meme on the rise. We didn't invent the term, but we're happy to have helped give it a push.

Where else have you seen the idea show up?

Comments (2)

Emily Gertz:

On this evening's installment of the radio show Marketplace, as a matter of fact:

"It's been almost a month since the killer waves in South Asia. According to the UN's special envoy assigned to the tsunami disaster attention now has to turn from emergency assistance to reconstruction. With this new chapter, commentator Stuart Hart of Cornell's School of Management wonders if the time has come for a reconsideration of what it means to provide relief..."

Hart makes links between poverty, terrorism, and "the commercialization of next-generation clean technologies" to lift South Asia's economy in the wake of the tsunami.

"In South Asia, visionary companies have the chance to leapfrog directly to clean technology."



Stuart Hart is promoting his new book "Capitalism at the Crossroads: The Unlimited Business Opportunities in Solving the World's Most Difficult Problems".

Hart: "Through bottom-up innovation on a human scale, MNCs effectively become part of the local landscape," he continues. "In so doing, the corporate sector becomes a primary driving force for global sustainability."

You can read a review:

You can find links to some of his articles (including his article with Clay Christensen about disruptive innovation) here:

I believe the book is available for pre-order only.


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