Public Entrepreneurship in Mexico City 墨西哥市的公共創業

(附中文) “[A]sk not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” — John F. Kennedy

To foster the social innovation from government, Mexico City has set up LabCDMX to source ideas, experiment and implement changes. For example, while around half of the population used the public transportation system, there was no comprehensive online transportation information system. To solve the problem, LabCDMX built an APP and launched a crowdsourcing event to gather data of bus routes.

While some classmates argued that private enterprises could have done same things with less cost and better performance, I think public entrepreneurship has several advantages:

  • Scale to invest: governments have budget, systems and human resources to launch large scale changes.
  • Access to data: governments have enormous database private enterprises usually don’t have access to though open source might help in the situation now
  • Cross-industrial collaboration: governments have a good position to initiate communication across sectors, creating new ideas

In addition, in emerging markets, I doubt if the infrastructure, average education level and investment in entrepreneurship would be good enough to foster private-led innovation. Even in developed markets, friends worked for the U.S. government mentioned the obstacles that private enterprises were not interested in unprofitable projects even if they had huge impact.

Hence, in my opinion, public entrepreneurship is necessary and important, and how to recruit more talents joining governments and build a flexible mechanism would be the key to success.

“別問國家能為你做什麼;問你能為國家做什麼!” — 約翰.甘迺迪

為促進社會創新,墨西哥市成立「CDMX實驗室」來尋找創新點子、實驗並落實改變。例如:近一半的墨西哥市人口使用大眾交通運輸,但卻沒有一套完整的線上資訊系統;為解決這個問題,CDMX實驗室建立一套APP系統、並讓群眾協助蒐集公車路線資訊。

雖然部分同學認為私人企業能夠以更少的錢、有更好的成效,我認為公共創業有幾項優勢:

  • 投資規模夠大:政府具有預算、系統和人力資源投入大規模變革
  • 資料取得性高:政府普遍較民間擁有更多數據可供參考(開放數據可能削減此優勢)
  • 跨產業合作:政府較易開啟跨領域對話、激盪出新想法

此外,在開發中國家,我懷疑基礎建設、平均教育水平和創業投資等不一定足夠促進民間創新。就算在已開發國家,為美國政府工作的同學亦提到民間不願投資不獲利、卻具有巨大影響力的專案。

因此,我認為公共創業仍然是必要的,而如何招聘優秀人才並創造有彈性的機制將會是成功的關鍵。

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