This book review originally appeared in the Daily Journal.
Ideas. Collaboration. Drive. In the world we live in, these intangible resources can be the most valuable assets a business has. In the two professional worlds with which I am most familiar, law practice and legal academia, this is certainly the case. Law firms routinely raid one another, both for talent and for books of business (and potential for future business). At law schools, we regularly look to other faculties to see whose talents in the classroom, as scholars, and as administrators would benefit our students, and try to recruit those faculty members to join our ranks. And we expect that other schools will do the same to us. Even more than in the legal arena, the competition between technology companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple is even fiercer. All of these companies fight vigorously with one another for the best talent, and routinely acquire (or as it is now known, acq-hire) entire start-ups, only to discard the actual product but keep the teams, founders and engineers.
Professor Orly Lobel's important new book, Talent Wants to Be Free: Why We Should Learn to Love Leaks, Raids, and Free Riding addresses what role business and government should play in the talent wars, not just in the legal profession but across industries. Combining insights from law, economics, psychology and business, and with the benefit of experimental studies, Lobel offers a powerful critique of our dated ways of thinking about competition, which center around command and control of human capital. But she also offers a hopeful vision of how law and business can foster innovation and the competitive edge necessary for our country's success in a new and more challenging global environment.