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How much people in a given country value the “interestingness of a job” is significantly related to how well the country scores in several dimensions of economic performance. So are people’s scores on acceptance of new ideas and the desire to have some initiative. On the other hand, a low willingness to take orders, which is conspicuous in some European nations, is associated with lower economic performance.
A readiness to accept change and a willingness to accept competition are also quite helpful. But a desire to achieve matters little: It is not some object people want; it is the experience — the life.
Edmund Phelps, the director of the Center on Capitalism and Society at Columbia University and dean of the New Huadu Business School at Minjiang University, received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2006. This is an excerpt from his new book, “Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change,” which will be published Aug. 25 by Princeton University Press.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.