July 15 2009
by Tim Rowe

Non-compete agreements and trash cans

I wrote an article this morning for Xconomy about non-competes.  A likened the way companies tie up employees to the way we Bostonians sometimes get it in our heads to tie up parking spaces with an old trash can.  If you’ve spent hours digging out a parking space, by golly nobody else is going to park there.  We feel the same way about employees we have carefully hired and trained in the innermost secrets of our companies.  Its only logical, and it is in our self interest, to mancle them to their desks, right?  My article spells out how this is really not such a great idea, and how our brethren in California have showed us a better path to collective success.

Later today, the Wall Street Journal quoted me on their blog (thank you, Wall Street Journal!).  It is clear that this topic is becoming one of national interest.  It has long been the case that the US has led the world in innovation, and we know it is not just our great universities (although they help) or the availability of capital (although that is critical), but also our uniquely powerful innovative culture here in the US that allows us to succeed where other countries falter.  Our non-compete policy in Massachusetts is a form of protectionism that harkens to the inflexible labor policies in much of Europe–policies that drag its performance down and which stifle entrepreneurship there.  Its really time we get rid of this bit of red tape and made Massachusetts a better place to make it.

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