Michael Storper explains how San Francisco is a much more attractive city than Los Angeles when studied microanalytically from the perspective of proximity to the individual. Storper goes on to clarify that this is the case because jobs in San Francisco have much more added value that those in Los Angeles: when in-depth surveys are carried out, residents in San Francisco define their work as being much more innovative, making a greater contribution in knowledge and being more intensive than those in Los Angeles. This has an obvious translation in terms of professional workers’ purchasing power and a more sophisticated implication for the overall value of the city given that the motivation, satisfaction and happiness of a city’s residents are the keys to its success.
Storper’s analysis is therefore revolutionary in that it goes beyond the standard indicators used to unravel the complex reality of a city. While both Los Angeles and San Francisco allocate a similar amount of their GDP to the tech industry, Storper’s research is based on the comparison between “types” of industry in both locations. Industry in Los Angeles is heir to the time of the military industrial complex and has not evolved, while in San Francisco, the combination of “alternative” businesses, academics, and an anti-establishment college population, has given rise to a wave of entrepreneurial activity that thirty years later is still the world’s largest talent producing factory. Silicon Valley was set up as a group with a very specific purpose: to improve the lives of all people through technology. This informal alliance flourished and produced jobs, universities and opportunities for many other people in San Francisco. For me, civic engagement and involvement is exactly this: collaboration and commitment between individuals to provide solutions to the challenges facing their city.