Adam Davidson, one of the most interesting economics writers working today, published a provocative piece in the New York Times magazine over the summer titled What Hollywood Can Teach Us About the Future of Work. Excerpt:
Our economy is in the midst of a grand shift toward the Hollywood model. More of us will see our working lives structured around short-term, project-based teams rather than long-term, open-ended jobs. There are many reasons this change is happening right now, but perhaps the best way to understand it is that we have reached the end of a hundred-year fluke, an odd moment in economic history that was dominated by big businesses offering essentially identical products. Competition came largely by focusing on the cost side, through making production cheaper and more efficient; this process required businesses to invest tremendous amounts in physical capital — machines and factories — and then to populate those factories with workers who performed routine activities. Nonmanufacturing corporations followed a similar model: Think of all those office towers filled with clerical staff or accountants or lawyers. That system began to fray in the United States during the 1960s, first in manufacturing, with the economic rise of Germany and Japan. It was then ripped apart by Chinese competition during the 2000s. Enter the Hollywood model, which is far more adaptable. Each new team can be assembled based on the specific needs of that moment and with a limited financial commitment.
The other month he spoke with Russ Roberts of Econtalk about his article. It’s an engaging conversation and they talk about The Alliance in the context of Adam’s thesis. At least a dozen people emailed me Adam’s original NYT Magazine piece — so I’m glad they were able to riff on The Alliance a bit on the podcast!