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Defense-related R&D as a model for “Grand Challenges” technology policies

  • Mowery, David C.
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    National defense represents a significant share of most OECD governments’ R&D budgets and an even higher share of their mission-oriented R&D spending. This public R&D investment has focused on research and innovation supporting defense missions, and in many cases the military services of these governments have purchased weapons systems incorporating the resulting technologies. Defense-related R&D investment has influenced innovation in the broader civilian economy of several OECD nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. The scope and nature of this influence remains uncertain and subject to considerable debate. Nonetheless, policymakers throughout the industrialized economies have expressed interest in “applying the lessons” of defense-related and other mission-oriented R&D programs to such challenges as climate change. This paper examines the characteristics of defense-related mission R&D programs in the industrial economies, with particular attention to the subset of nations for which reliable longitudinal data on defense R&D spending are available. I highlight the characteristics that distinguish mission-oriented R&D in this field from mission-oriented R&D in other sectors and to point out some significant differences among OECD economies in the structure of their defense-related R&D programs. The discussion also emphasizes the ways in which the unique structure of defense-related R&D limit its utility as a model for mission-oriented R&D programs aimed at other goals.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048733312002181
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.

    Volume (Year): 41 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 10 ()
    Pages: 1703-1715

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:41:y:2012:i:10:p:1703-1715
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/respol

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    1. Cowan, Robin, 1990. "Nuclear Power Reactors: A Study in Technological Lock-in," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(03), pages 541-567, September.
    2. Cowan, Robin & Foray, Dominique, 1995. "Quandaries in the economics of dual technologies and spillovers from military to civilian research and development," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 851-868, November.
    3. David C. Mowery, 2011. "Federal Policy and the Development of Semiconductors, Computer Hardware, and Computer Software: A Policy Model for Climate Change R&D?," NBER Chapters, in: Accelerating Energy Innovation: Insights from Multiple Sectors, pages 159-188 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Mowery, David C. & Nelson, Richard R. & Martin, Ben R., 2010. "Technology policy and global warming: Why new policy models are needed (or why putting new wine in old bottles won't work)," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 1011-1023, October.
    5. Lichtenberg, Frank R, 1987. "The Effect of Government Funding on Private Industrial Research and Development: A Re-assessment," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(1), pages 97-104, September.
    6. Richard R. Nelson, 1959. "The Simple Economics of Basic Scientific Research," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 67, pages 297.
    7. Wright, Brian D., 2012. "Grand missions of agricultural innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(10), pages 1716-1728.
    8. Lichtenberg, Frank R, 1988. "The Private R&D Investment Response to Federal Design and Technical Competitions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 550-59, June.
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