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Grunnforskning og økonomisk vekst: Ikke-instrumentell kunnskap

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I denne rapporten drøfter vi grunnforskningens betydning for økonomisk vekst og velferdsutvikling. Innledningsvis drøftes hvilke deler av forskning generelt, og grunnforskning spesielt, økonomiske rasjonaler har betydning for. Instrumentalitet, i hvilken grad langsiktig forskning begrunnes og utformes etter verdier og målsettinger utenom kunnskapsinterne målsettinger står sentralt i denne drøftingen. Fordi vurderinger av instrumentalitet eller relevans er situasjonsbetinget er det begrenset hvordan dette begrepet kan brukes til utforming og styring av grunnforskning. Begrunnelsen for offentlig innsats som ble utviklet i tiden etter Sputnik-sjokket har siden bestått mer eller mindre uendret. Men dette rasjonalets beskrivelse av sammenhengene mellom grunnforskning og økonomisk vekst og velferd er begrenset; begrunnelsen er rettet mot forskning som utvikler ikke-approprierbar kunnskap, og den er begrenset til utvikling av kodifisert kunnskap. Den gir derfor ingen retningslinjer for utforming av politikk for grunnforskning. En bedre forståelse må ta utgangspunkt i en mer omfattende og mangslungen beskrivelse av samspillet mellom grunnforskning og det økonomiske systemet. Utgangspunktet må være at grunnforskning produserer komplementære produkter med mange muligheter for kombinasjon etter kunnskapsmessige og teknologiske forutsetninger i ’bruker’-sektorer. Komplementariteten i de aktiviteter og forutsetninger som former innovasjonsvirksomhet i næringslivet, åpner for et mangefasettert samspill med kunnskaper og ferdigheter med utgangspunkt i grunnforskning. Forsøk på å kvantifisere de økonomiske virkninger av grunnforskning må dermed ta høyde for sammensatte samvirkeformer. Det er behov for å utvikle en bedre forståelse av samvirket mellom grunnforskningssystemet og det økonomiske systemet. En bedre forståelse må bl.a. ta utgangspunkt i former for kunnskapsgenerering, et forbedret grep på kunnskapsformer etter hvilken rolle de spiller i brukssituasjoner, samt en utdypet forståelse av læringsformer og innovasjonsprosesser. Avslutningsvis i kapitlet skisseres en alternativ forståelse av grunnforskningens rolle overfor økonomisk utvikling som delvis besvarer de to første spørsmålene. Denne framstillingen understøtter en hovedkonklusjon i dette kapitlet; at grunnforskning må forstås som komplementær til, men distinkt fra, anvendt forskning. Disse to forskningsformene har forskjellige siktemål og funksjoner, forskjeller som også må gjenspeiles i den politikken som utformes. Noen av de utfordringer som dette stiller politikkansvarlige organer overfor er drøftet i det avsluttende avsnittet.English version:The current chapter focuses on the importance of basic research to economic growth and welfare. First, we discuss the significance of economic rationales for research in general and basic research in particular. ‘Instrumentality’ - the degree to which long-term research is justified and developed according to values and objectives which lie outside knowledge-internal objectives - is central to this discussion. Because any appraisal of instrumentality or relevance is conditioned by its context and the assessment of agents, this concept has limited use in developing and guiding basic research. The rationale for public investment in research developed during the ‘post-Sputnik shock’ era has survived more or less unaltered. However, this rationale provides only a limited account of the relationship between basic research and economic growth; it is aimed at research that develops non-appropriable knowledge, and is limited to the development of codified knowledge. It does not, therefore, provide any guidance for the development of policy on basic research. Any attempt to gain a deeper understanding must be based on a more comprehensive and intricate account of the interaction between basic research and the economic system. The starting point must be that basic research produces complementary products with multiple combination possibilities according to the knowledge and technological expectations of user sectors. The complementarity of those activities and expectations which shape innovation activities in the business sector makes possible a multifaceted interaction of knowledge and competences based on basic research. Attempts to quantify the economic effects of basic research must therefore take account of complex forms of co-operation between basic research and economic innovation. There is a need to develop a better understanding of the forms of co-operation between the basic research system and the economic system. Any improved understanding must encompass, amongst other things, different forms of knowledge generation, an improved grasp of knowledge forms according to the role played at the user end, as well as a deeper understanding of learning and innovation processes. Finally, this chapter sketches an alternative understanding of the role of basic research vis-à-vis economic development, providing partial answers to the first two questions. This description underlines the main conclusion of this chapter, namely that basic research must be understood as complementary to but distinct from applied research. These two types of research have different objectives and functions, differences that must also be reflected by policy. A number of the challenges thus facing policy-makers are discussed in the final section.

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Paper provided by The STEP Group, Studies in technology, innovation and economic policy in its series STEP Report series with number 199811.

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Handle: RePEc:stp:stepre:1998r11

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