By: J.D. Ross
School of Information Studies (iSchool) Associate Professor Jason Dedrick has been awarded a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to analyze jobs associated with the wind energy industry in the U.S. and around the globe.
As clean energy continues to be promoted as a potential driver of economic growth and employment as the world responds to environmental threats such as climate change, supporters see the potential to build a dynamic new industry and create millions of jobs in the U.S.
Skeptics, however, question the job-creation potential of clean energy for the U.S. They point out that the wind and solar industries are global in nature, with companies from the U.S., Europe and Asia participating in the supply chain, and manufacturing spread around the world. It is possible that many of the jobs associated with clean energy will end up outside the U.S.
This debate on job location points to the larger question of who actually benefits from innovation and investment in emerging technologies when industry value chains cross national boundaries. Is it the home country of the lead firm in the value chain, the country where the final product is manufactured, or the countries that supply high value components?
Dedrick will address this issue through a focused study of the wind energy industry. Using a methodology developed in a study of the iPod value chain, Dedrick and his associates Greg Linden of UC Berkeley and Kenneth L. Kraemer of UC Irvine will estimate the global distribution of jobs and wages associated with wind energy development in the U.S. They also will forecast future wind energy jobs and wages in the U.S. and other countries under different scenarios.
“My role will be to collect data from wind turbine manufacturers, their suppliers, and wind farm developers and operators to estimate the current number of jobs in the U.S. and abroad,” explained Dedrick. “Then, I’ll forecast future job creation under different scenarios, depending on the scale of investment and the nationality of the turbine manufacturers.”
The objective is to provide independent, fact-based information for policymakers and other decision makers, and to develop new understanding of the relationship of innovation to employment in global value chains.
Dedrick’s research interests include the globalization of information technology, the economic and organizational impacts of IT, national IT policy, the offshoring of innovation and knowledge work and Green IT. He is co-director of the Personal Computing Industry Center, also sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.