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Reed Hundt Lecture, "In China's Shadow: The Crisis of American Entrepreneurship"

The Law School and University community are invited to attend the Horatio Ellsworth Kellar Distinguished Visitors lecture by Reed Hundt entitled, "In China's Shadow:  The Crisis of American Entrepreneurship."  The lecture will take place on Tuesday, February 20, at 12:15 p.m. in the Deans' Conference Room at the Law School.  Please RSVP to 612-625-4544 or lawevent@umn.edu.  One CLE credit has been approved.

 

Reed Hundt has served as director of Intel since 2001, and is a principal of Charles Ross Partners, a private investor and business advisory service.  He has also worked as an advisor to McKinsey & Company and to the Blackstone Group.  During President Clinton's term, Clinton appointed Hundt to be chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.  As Chairman, from 1993 to 1997, Hundt oversaw the implementation of spectrum auctions and the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which substantially reduced the rates for international telecommunications.

Hundt has written "You Say You Want a Revolution:  A Story of Information Age Politics." (Yale University Press, 2000) and "In China's Shadow:  The Crisis of American Entrepreneurship."  (Yale University Press, 2006).

"In China's Shadow:  The Crisis of American Entrepreneurship" asserts that China’s new power could harm most American citizens and destroy the American dream.  His crisp and highly provocative look at the challenge ahead offers a compelling perspective on how to make the best of China’s global competition: Hundt identifies explicit and expansive promotion of entrepreneurship as our best competitive edge.

"China's access to a large and inexpensive labor force will empower thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of firms to compete with American firms. Highly trained Chinese employees will compete with highly trained Americans and in doing so may saw off the top end of American's income ladder," says Hundt. "But by the time the upper class has suffered serious impact from Chinese rivalry, the opportunity for an effective national responses might have passed. There’s not a moment to lose in preparing both American firms and workers for the new wave of competition."

Hundt suggests that meeting the Chinese challenge does not require adopting the current legislative program of the left or right or imposing a government plan on business. We do not need a coordinated national strategy for particular industries. Instead, he says, in order for America to maintain its lead in job and wealth creation, the country must expand and renew the culture of entrepreneurship that has been at the heart of American economic success for centuries. Unless substantial entrepreneurship upsets the status quo in energy, health care and other sectors, as it did in communications and computing in the 90’s, then average Americans will see their standard of living lowered. If decline is America’s future, then America will lose its commitment to the values of liberty and equality that are at the core of its national character.

Hundt sounds the battle cry for these specific changes:

  • The architecture of law – statute, regulation and cases – needs to be changed to encourage start-ups and entry into new areas by existing firms.
  • The architecture of technology needs to be changed to encourage open and collaborative research and development.
  • The architecture of leadership needs to be altered to encourage leaders from outside existing centers of power. Chief executives of start-ups and social networks of workers and consumers need to have expanded influence on America’s policies.

Hundt reviews the lessons of the Golden 1990s, when law, technology, and leadership produced a robust culture of entrepreneurship, and analyzes how entrepreneurship is being undermined today. He offers a creative list of new ways for entrepreneurs and their employees to be supported by law and technology.

Hundt also offers a close look at the spirit of entrepreneurship which infused that internet explosion. His exclusive interviews with AOL’s Steve Case and Netscape’s Marc Andreessen, as well as famed venture capitalists, offer new material about how those entrepreneurs seized the opportunities presented by law and technology to change the world. Their efforts, along with the thousands of other new firms created every year in the United States, demonstrate America’s potential for a bright future of creating new products, companies, and jobs. And, according to Hundt, this is the tradition America must return to in order to forge ahead in the face of China.

Portrait of Reed Hunt