The Transfer of Knowledge

March 18, 2014, 3:24 pm

Political campaigns are giant startups that flare into existence in campaign season, hire thousands and spend millions, and then mostly wink out of existence. Others have made this point. What’s interesting me at the moment is what happens to those campaign workers when the effort ends? A fair number stay in politics: move on to the next campaign, go to DC, or something similar. But a lot don’t, and it would be fascinating to trace their movement into the American economy. They have a lot of skills and experience, often at a very young age, and those skills are useful. In the same way that the veterans of World War II, often with great experience in logistics and supply movement, came back to the United States and filtered into an economy where those skills were prized, political campaign people may well be having knock-on economic effects. The people in the Obama campaign were clear about wanting to have workers who could go on to private jobs:

[Teddy] Goff [one of the head honchos of the Obama campaign's digital effort] said he wanted the young recruits in Digital [one of the parts of the campaign] to be so good they could be hired afterward by Nike or Coca-Cola and ‘not be seen as hippy dippys.’”[1]

This is speculation, and I have no evidence on this, but it’d be interested to see if (for example) companies that had more campaign veterans did better than companies that did not.[1] Jonathan Alter, The Center Holds : Obama and His Enemies (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013), 103.

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