Globalization and the Two-Edged Sword of Meritocracy
Even though globalization, and the knowledge economy, places a premium on education and creativity, meritocracy inhibits the participation of many talented and creative people. The evidence clearly indicates that higher education’s reliance on standardized test scores and academic records promotes uniformity, rather than diversity, among those who pursue college degrees. In order to maximize America’s competitive advantage, it is the author’s contention that higher education, and the private sector, should expand the definition of diversity beyond the traditional parameters of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Diversity should also encompass the goal of integrating members of the irregular economy into higher education and the private sector. Auto mechanics who participate in the underground or irregular economy complete their tasks with fewer tools than their colleagues in the regular economy. Their ability to adapt could provide a unique perspective that would facilitate the development of a more fuel efficient automobile as well as solutions for other mechanical challenges. By the same token, low income individuals who participant in the social economy, along with social workers, public administrators, and policy makers, could develop more efficient means of delivering social and health services and strategies for strengthening communities. The integration of these individuals into higher education and the regular economy will require the development of additional recruitment, retention, pedagogical, social, and group process models. The author contends the success of these efforts will expand the range of people who will enjoy the fruits of economic expansion and a higher standard of living.
Keywords: Diversity, Higher Education, Irregular Economy
Associate Professor, School of Public Affairs and Administration, Western Michigan University