Secretary Gregory Bialecki, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
I have seen a number of responses to my blog entry on non-competes earlier this week, including one Tweet that summarized it as "Bialecki…argues for the status quo." I don't think that's what I said, but on re-reading my own post, I can see why someone would say that. In an attempt to lay out our thinking on the subject, I did give the appearance of being more comfortable with the status quo. So let me elaborate a little bit more on two points:
First, I think Rep. Will Brownsberger and his colleagues got it right by deciding to limit/regulate non-competes, as opposed to attempting to eliminate them in Massachusetts. I know that this decision will disappoint a number of folks who feel strongly about the issue, but it feels right to me for the reasons I set out earlier this week. Eliminating non-competes would be a dramatic change in our way of doing business and there is just not a broad consensus of opinion that eliminating non-competes is the right move.
Second, even though Rep. Brownsberger's decision was the right one, it does send the discussion down a challenging path, because the limitation/regulation approach means that a lot of lines need to be drawn in places where there is no clear answer. If we want to make a distinction between non-competes for senior management versus junior staff, for example, where do we draw that line? As I mentioned earlier this week, if those rules aren't clear, then the uncertainty created might even be worse than the status quo.
Does that mean the limitation/regulation approach is not worth trying? Absolutely not. We welcome the efforts of Rep. Brownsberger, his colleagues and other stakeholders in the MA innovation economy to explore the possibilities for non-compete rules that work better than the ones we have today, and we will certainly keep an open mind.