Government Policy for Industrial Innovation
Introduction When we think about policy for research and innovation, we should be less concerned with the different 'kinds' of research that usually fall under that rubric. In the US we are very caught-up on the debate between economic conservatives and liberals, over whether or not the government has any business in funding R & D programs in the commercial/private sector, never mind the military. So we, in America, struggle and the most controversial of those programs is the Advanced Technology Program (ATP), which the 104th Congress newly validated but which the Republicans tried to abolish. Obviously in every country there are big issues about public investments in both research and human resources. This, afterall, is core to what the government's role is. But there is also a very important government role in encouraging private sector innovation and the tools for doing that are quite different than those used for subsidizing research as Michael Gibbons and John de la Mothe have each suggested in previous chapters. Along these lines, I will specialize my remarks in this chapter to deal with economic goals for research and innovation policy. We do not have a problem with defining what the government's goals are with respect to economics: providing a certain quality of life, as well as security and opportunity for people; capturing benefits domestically in a global economy; and so on. A very important element of policy is to resolve the question of choosing to be better than the other guy or choosing to be in an absolutely better position while not dominating internationally. A great many aspects of U S economic policy certainly depend on varying political attitudes toward whether the economic pie is viewed as fixed or not.