Capital vs. Talent:Capital Is Plentiful, Talent Scarce
I came across an interesting 2005 New Yorker article titled "Net Worth," here are some excerpts:
In the traditional struggle between capital and labor, more often than not capital has won, because the real source of value for most companies has historically been the hard assets that they owned and controlled. Toyota owes its success to its machines, assembly lines, and system of production. For Wal-Mart, it’s primarily store location, technological efficiency, and product selection. For Coca-Cola, it’s carbonated beverages and exceptional distribution. Workers for these companies are, for the most part, interchangeable, so their bargaining power is limited.
But in a host of industries—most notably in what we now call the knowledge economy—the arrangement is different. In Hollywood, in Silicon Valley, on Wall Street, and in professional sports, hard assets matter far less than people. The employees—the so-called knowledge workers—make the difference between success and failure.
Capital is plentiful; it is skilled people who are scarce. The salient struggle is no longer capital versus labor but, capital versus talent. The upshot is that in many knowledge businesses the employees often do better than the shareholders.
Talented workers were always in demand, but only recently did they recognize how much they could get for their services. Things may be getting harder for traditional labor—real wages for most workers actually fell last year (2004)—but they’re getting better for the talent.
Bottom Line: The "capital vs. talent" argument could actually help explain: a) rising CEO pay, b) rising income inequality, and c) the decline of manufacturing wages and the power of unions, etc.