The bad news? For years, as China and India have siphoned away info-tech jobs, the big question has been when those low-wage nations would figure out how to out-innovate us, too. Well, perhaps that day has come. The 1,962 online respondents to our Fast Track Innovation Survey—a joint effort with IMD, the Switzerland-based business school, and recruiter Egon Zehnder International—were decidedly bearish on America's competitive standing. In the past five years, they said, the U.S. has lost its innovative edge to:
European Union 23.1%
More worrisome, just 46% agreed that, in the future, American businesses will be "well equipped" to innovate and compete against rivals in China and India. As a result, they said, China will win market share in several big spheres:
Information technology 62.4%
Even more thought that India will gain share at the expense of U.S. companies in:
Information technology 85.7%
The Internet 61.4%
The good news: 20 years ago, folks had similar fears about Japan—and look what's happened. Anyway, when it comes to MP3 players and search technology, America has the innovation race sewn up. Here are the companies that respondents said they most admired for innovation—with nary a foreign rival in sight:
Company / No. of Mentions
General Electric 72
See the full survey results.
A version of this article appeared in the December 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.