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The Spring Edition: Disruption

The Spring Edition launched today! Below is the Letter from the Editor introducing the edition. You can read the entire Spring Edition at http://www.gpprspring.com.

Two weeks before Brexit, the Editorial Board gathered and wove together the 2017 GPPR theme of Disruption. Dualistic in nature, we wanted to discuss how technologies and business models were changing economic structures we’d taken for granted, such as consumption, communication, and transportation.

We had no idea what was coming.

The narrow vote for the UK to leave the European Union was a warning shot by the same nationalist base Donald Trump was animating across the Atlantic. Trump won the primary, and ultimately the election because the establishment he ran against struggled to keep up.

Just as the Republican challengers to Trump appeared to have no coordinated strategy to stop him, the policy environment was lagging behind matters of privacy with drones, liability in the case of self-driving cars, and a taxi company that claimed all of its workers as independent contractors.

The theme Disruption then, is a story of action without reaction. When a force moves faster than the surrounding environment can react, then disruption occurs. In such instances, we are left as the monkey riding the tiger, believing we are in control, but ultimately retroactively rationalizing to explain why certain events occur, and why we made what decisions we did. In the absence of true facts we invent alternative narratives to describe our circumstances.

The articles contained in this year’s Spring Edition seek to replace narrative with empirically justified, falsifiable theories, and each in its own way disputes a narrative or stereotype invented in a factual vacuum. Latinos have been portrayed as net negatives to American society in our political discourse, while one article demonstrates they are some of the most successful entrepreneurs in this country. Surely Americans in rural communities fail to use the Internet because they cannot access it. In truth, many of them claim they are disinterested or have no use for a tool many consider vital. Uber is a direct substitute to taxis and is costing drivers their jobs, but one author finds no connection between Uber’s entry into a market and a decline in taxi driver employment.

This notion of narrative over numbers is itself disruptive, as it entails a conversation where interlocutors duel with alternative sets of facts. More troubling, is recent social science research, demonstrating that presentation of new information is associated with confirmation bias, meaning we cherry pick what details support our prior ideas rather than revising them.

As such, clarity of communication is at a premium. The presentation of the Spring Edition does its utmost to acknowledge that, presenting sophisticated and nuanced academic literature in a nonetheless accessible format through our use of media and visualizations. As I said earlier this year, policy means people, so I encourage you to inform yourself, read on, and dispense with this narrative.

Justin Goss, Editor-in-Chief

 


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