Podcast 102 - Innovative class of Turkey and regional development

31 Mar 2014

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UNDP Turkey: This is the New Horizons podcasts of United Nations Development Programme Turkey. In this episode, we will talk about a study which looks into Turkey’s innovative class that provides an important added value for regional development efforts. Our contributor is researcher Efşan Nas Özen from the Economic Studies of Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV). Welcome.

Efşan Nas Özen: Thank you.

UNDP Turkey: A short while ago, we talked about the same subject with Prof. Cem Kılıç in our podcasts. We talked about the Global Creativity Index of the Martin Prosperity Institute is a part of the Rotman School of Management in Canada. This index was defining creative class as those who works in creative lines of work of all economic sectors. You have also done a similar study, it has recently published, at the beginning of March and you have examined Turkey’s creative class in this study. Though there are differences in your definition, you used the concept of innovative class in your study while you were introducing a creative class definition for Turkey. First of all who are this innovative class? Who fall under this definition in Turkey?

Efşan Nas Özen: Richard Florida counts this as whoever works to create meaningful new forms while he defines creative class.

UNDP Turkey: He is the director of Martin Prosperity Institute.

Efşan Nas Özen: Yes exactly. But while we were defining innovative class, we thought that it would be better to create such kind of category for Turkey considering both limited data and criticism against Richard Florida. Within this innovative class, there are scientists, engineers, researchers at universities, writers, designers, architects, ideogenetics who take a part in creative activities. Besides those who take part in administrative function such as workers of finance sector, judiciary, health professionals and business administration professionals were included.

UNDP Turkey: Shortly people who have an added value for the society. Innovation is a key word that you care about it. What is the ratio of innovative class in total working population rate? In which lines of work we come upon these people?

Efşan Nas Özen: According to my calculations, innovative class constitutes %13,8 of working population in Turkey. We see that although scientists are mainly included within this describing, in fact business administration professionals have higher rate.  We maintain more detailed studies related to this, a related study will be published in the upcoming days.

UNDP Turkey: You maintain a follow up research and we will get some more detail through that report. You said that Turkey’s innovative class ratio is %13,8 in comparison with other countries. Then, according to your calculations, %14 in every worker is subjected to innovative class.  What is the situation in Turkey when we compare to other countries?

Efşan Nas Özen: In fact, making this comparison is a bit difficult because we can reach to data of country with Richard Florida’s definition and this definition is a bit different than my calculations for Turkey. When I do a similar calculation for Turkey, I come to a rate of %21,5. We can use this rate for inter-country comparisons.

UNDP Turkey: In fact, if you use that calculation it would ensue a higher figure.

Efşan Nas Özen: It is higher due to failures arising from data; I think that this has been estimated extremely high. According to this calculation, Turkey has similar result to some Middle Eastern countries. We see that Turkey falls within United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Syria and Algeria.

UNDP Turkey: You talk about a working class that you define as structural innovative core besides innovative class in you study. What does this concept mean?

Efşan Nas Özen: Innovative class covers those who have an innovative works potential. For this reason, business and administrative professionals also take part in. Structural innovative core includes scientists who directly contribute innovation such as professionals and assistant professionals who work on physic, mathematic and engineering science, members of profession and health units.

UNDP Turkey: So you refer it when you say structural innovative.

Efşan Nas Özen: Yes, It refers to these.

UNDP Turkey: Those who want to contribute to this debate can share their opinions from #YeniUfuklar hashtag on Twitter. Those who want to attain the study and read it in detail can reach from TEPAV’s website, tepav.org.tr. We continue our interview with Efşan Nas Özen from TEPAV. When I have recently asked you how you interpret Turkey’s situation in comparison to other countries, even if there are differences depending on defining, let’s talk about countries that Turkey falls within and that league. What does this mean in the terms of Turkey’s innovative class?

Efşan Nas Özen: Let me state like this, when we look at the economic development of Turkey, It has alternated between 16th and 17th of the world’s biggest economy for a long time. However, Turkey need to a growing depending on innovation in order to ensure sustainability of economic growth. Actually, the thing that shows this performance is the elevation of innovative labor force; it alternates according to its height. When we evaluate Turkey considering this performance, finding Turkey among the Middle Eastern countries poses a danger in the sense of sustainability of its growing performance.  Hence, now, growing can go well but we can say that it might stop in a point and it cannot be sustainable in long term, so from this point it is a danger.

UNDP Turkey: In that case, supplying a growth depending on innovation is probably based on two points. Education is an extent and employment policy is another. On the one hand people should be educated and on the other hand, suitable positions should be provided for them. What are your policy recommendations depending on these results within this context?

Efşan Nas Özen: I approached from the point of regional development in the study, let me talk about it. Richard Florida also emphasizes that regional, innovative class might have more different requests than any staff; we might also dwell on this issue in the upcoming phases of this study. One’s choosing to work in certain regions might depend on life quality and socio-economical development standards of those regions. This means livable cities are emphasized in this sense besides strengthening of education and employment policies.

UNDP Turkey: In fact, you refer to one of the examples widely given nowadays. In a sense you formulize the question of what should we do to convince people graduated from Boğaziçi University or METU that they live in outside of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir and they provide added value to there, aren’t you?

Efşan Nas Özen: Yes, exactly, when we look at the share of innovative class in employment, as you say that innovative class has biggest share in regional employment, in Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul. This does not only arise from those provinces’ economic development but also it can be partly derived form that it is more pleasant to live there.

UNDP Turkey: Those who are curious about the report can upload it from the website that I have recently mentioned. You carefully lay emphasis on the relationship of innovative class and regional development. You have talked about relationship between them but why creative class is significant for regional development? It can be beneficial to explain one more time. 

Efşan Nas Özen: In this study, I tried to handle that the concepts of creative class and regional development have relations with each other. We can observe that with two indicators, one is gross value added under existing data; we can look at regional gross value added. As long as the innovative class’ share in labor force increases, we see that the gross value added has also a higher rate in this region. Another indicator is a demonstration regarding to what extent sectors of the region are qualified, I used simplicity indicator based on Hidalgo and Hausman’s study. In this indicator, as long as the simplicity indicator decreases, it is ensued that sectors in the region are more qualified ones. When we look at this indicator, we also see that in the regions in which innovative class has bigger share of labor force, sectors are less ordinary. Hence, we can say that innovative class contributes to both a higher gross value added and forming of more qualified sectors. It is crystal clear fact that this is a bilateral relationship at the same time because employment, innovative class employment is more appear in the region where economic opportunities of regional development are advanced. However, it can be beneficial for regional development considering the other.

UNDP Turkey: You talk about regulations that encourage qualified sectors and goad innovative class into going there on the condition that it depends on the regions’ needs. Increasing the share of innovative class in population as whole is one of the priority. In addition to improvement of living standards, encouraging working in that region is a main structure that you form. We have bit talked about solutions but how could it be when you carry into policy? This is our last question.

Efşan Nas Özen: First of all it should be stated that the quality of data collected in the country must be increased for researchers who study in this field and generally study in employment field because it should be collected more detail data in order to able to discuss policies that would be occurred in the upcoming periods and in this sense improving the capacity of analyzing is crucial. The most important policy proposal which can be emerged from the relationship of innovative class and regional development that you have talked is employment. As you know, investment programs and regional industrial development are tried to be encouraged in our country, however when industry is developed, providing employee who works in for these regions constitute a problem. From this study, besides investment oriented plans towards regional development, policies that enable innovative labor force to stay in the region as you said, in other words policies that enhance indicators of the socio-economic development and living standards might be thought.

UNDP Turkey: In fact, we have already talked similar concepts with Güven Sak who is the director of TEPAV.  When we talked about brain drain in Turkey, he also stated that we should make those cities livable and we should provide suitable jobs for qualified people to keep them in Turkey. You adapted this to regions in a sense. Thank you for your participation Efşan Nas Özen.

Efşan Nas Özen: Thank you.

UNDP Turkey: Our contributor was reseacher Efşan Nas Özen  from Department of Economic Studies of Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) and in this episode we talked about a study which looks into Turkey’s innovative class that provides an important added value for regional development efforts. We come to the end of New Horizons podcast prepared by UNDP in Turkey. This program has been recorded at the studio of Radyo İlef of Ankara University Communications Department. You can follow our program on iTunes, Audioboo and Soundcloud in podcast format, on FM frequency in İstanbul, on Açık Radyo (Open Radio) on internet, on nearly fifty Police radios, on MYCY radio from Cyprus and also on university radios in our broadcasting network and on tr.undp.org. Our user name for social media is undpturkiye. Hope to see you soon, good bye!












In this episode, we talk about a study which looks into Turkey’s innovative class that provides an important added value for regional development efforts.



Efşan Nas Özen, Researcher from the Economic Studies of Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV)


Read the transcript