Innovation Becomes a Policy Priority For Governments Around the Globe
As global economic competition intensifies, more of the world’s governments are playing a direct role in driving innovation, according to the fall edition of Issues in Science and Technology.
A special section on global innovation policy focuses on national innovation programs in Mexico, Belgium, India, South Korea, Japan, and the United States.
The issue includes articles by R. Chidambaram, the principal scientific adviser to the government of India; Sungchul Chung, president of South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute; and Fientje Moerman, vice-minister-president of Flanders and minister for economy, enterprise, science, innovation and foreign trade.
Innovation is examined as a complex social process. In addition to what happens in the laboratory, it involves tax policy, capital markets, university culture, intellectual property law, attitudes toward foreign direct investment, tolerance of failure and a host of other variables.
Managing a national innovation system is a constant challenge—and struggle, according to Charles Wessner, deputy director of the National Research Council’s Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy.
“What works in one context will not necessarily work in another,” Wessner writes. “What works in one decade will not necessarily work in the next. And with the global economic system in flux, every country must be ready to re-examine and revise its policies.
“These articles contain no easy answers,” Wessner continues. “They offer something much more useful: candid and perceptive discussion of the successes and failures that are slowly leading all of us to a better understanding of how innovation can be tapped and directed to achieve human goals.”
In the United States, substantial changes in the national innovation system will be needed, argues Christopher Hill of George Mason University. In his article, “The Post-Scientific Society,” Hill writes that although science and technology will continue to play a vital role in innovation, the critical ingredients for continued U.S. economic success are likely to come from other disciplines.
And in “The Chrysanthemum Meets the Eagle,” Kenneth Flamm of the University of Texas at Austin and Sadao Nagaoka, director of a Japanese research institute, write that Japanese and U.S. innovation policies have been co-evolving since the 19th century. For example, during the 1990s, Japan adopted successful policies that the United States had implemented in the 1980s, such as strong university-industry partnerships.
Also in the fall Issues in Science and Technology:
- “How to Fix Our Dam Problems” -- According to James G. Workman, a natural resources consultant, thousands of aging dams should be repaired or destroyed, at a cost of billions. A cap-and-trade policy could speed the process and help pay the bills.
- “Ethanol: Train Wreck Ahead?” -- Robbin S. Johnson, a former Cargill executive, and C. Ford Runge, a professor at the University of Minnesota, argue that government policy is stoking unsustainable growth of the corn-based fuel. A more sober, diversified approach is needed.
Issues in Science and Technology (www.issues.org) is the award-winning journal of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and the University of Texas at Dallas.
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