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Public Policies to Support Basic Research: What Can the Rest of the World Learn from US Theory and Practice? (And What They Should Not Learn)


  • Pavitt, K


The information-based theoretical model for public support of basic research, developed in the USA at the end of the 1950s, has held up well in political practice, in spite of its neglect of training benefits, of necessary prior investment in research infrastructure and of its consequently limited relevance outside the USA. At the same time, US practice in basic research has often been misinterpreted as being driven by short-term usefulness, whereas its key features are massive and pluralistic government funding, high academic quality, and the ability to invest in the long-term development of new (often multidisciplinary) fields. Challenges for the future include greater (and often ill-judged) pressures from governments for demonstrable usefulness of the basic research it supports, the entirely separate development of direct links to application in biomedical and software fields, and more complicated links between national basic research and application resulting from the changes in the internationalization of corporate R&D. And perhaps we can learn as much from successful practices in Scandinavia and Switzerland as from the USA. Copyright 2001 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Pavitt, K, 2001. "Public Policies to Support Basic Research: What Can the Rest of the World Learn from US Theory and Practice? (And What They Should Not Learn)," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(3), pages 761-779, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:indcch:v:10:y:2001:i:3:p:761-79

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