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Public values and public failure in US science policy


  • Barry Bozeman
  • Daniel Sarewitz


Domestic science policy in the United States is linked inextricably to economic thinking. We seek to develop a practical analytical framework that confronts the manifest problems of economic valuing for science and technology activities. We argue that pervasive use of market valuation, market-failure assumptions and economic metaphors shapes the structure of science policy in undesirable ways. In particular, reliance on economic reasoning tends to shift the discourse about science policy away from political questions of “why?” and “to what end?” to economic questions of “how much?” Borrowing from the “public values failure framework”, we examine public values criteria for science policy, illustrated with case vignettes on such topics as genetically modified crops and the market for human organs. Copyright , Beech Tree Publishing.

Suggested Citation

  • Barry Bozeman & Daniel Sarewitz, 2005. "Public values and public failure in US science policy," Science and Public Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 119-136, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:scippl:v:32:y:2005:i:2:p:119-136

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    Cited by:

    1. Kroll, Henning & Hansmeier, Hendrik & Hufnagl, Miriam, 2022. "Productive interactions in basic research an enquiry into impact pathways at the DESY synchrotron," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 175(C).
    2. Ciarli, Tommaso & Ràfols, Ismael, 2019. "The relation between research priorities and societal demands: The case of rice," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 949-967.
    3. Barry Bozeman & Gordon Kingsley, 2013. "Research value mapping and evaluation: theory and application," Chapters, in: Albert N. Link & Nicholas S. Vonortas (ed.), Handbook on the Theory and Practice of Program Evaluation, chapter 7, pages 166-189, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Godwin Kwemarira & Diana Nandagire Ntamu & Isa Nsereko & Waswa Balunywa, 2023. "Deontological Ethical Orientations and Public interest in Government Schools," Public Organization Review, Springer, vol. 23(4), pages 1455-1476, December.
    5. Bozeman, Barry & Rimes, Heather & Youtie, Jan, 2015. "The evolving state-of-the-art in technology transfer research: Revisiting the contingent effectiveness model," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 34-49.
    6. Mario Coccia, 2007. "Quanto e come investire in ricerca per massimizzare la crescita economica? Analisi e implicazioni di politica economica per l’Italia e l’Europa," CERIS Working Paper 200705, CNR-IRCrES Research Institute on Sustainable Economic Growth - Torino (TO) ITALY - former Institute for Economic Research on Firms and Growth - Moncalieri (TO) ITALY.
    7. David Oonk, & Kaul, Mokshda & Maurer, Ben & M.A. Karwat, Darshan, 2023. "Public value mapping to assess and guide governmental investments in energy and environmental justice: Studying the United States Department of Energy," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 188(C).
    8. Karaulova, Maria & Edler, Jakob, 2023. "Bringing research into policy: Understanding context-specific requirements for productive knowledge brokering in legislatures," Discussion Papers "Innovation Systems and Policy Analysis" 77, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI).
    9. Chris J. Barton & Qingqing Wang & Derrick M. Anderson & Drew A. Callow, 2021. "Synchronizing the Logic of Inquiry with the Logic of Action: The Case of Urban Climate Policy," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(19), pages 1-16, September.
    10. Mario Coccia, 2007. "Il finanziamento pubblico alla ricerca spiazza l’investimento privato in ricerca? Analisi ed implicazioni per la crescita economica dei paesi," CERIS Working Paper 200704, CNR-IRCrES Research Institute on Sustainable Economic Growth - Torino (TO) ITALY - former Institute for Economic Research on Firms and Growth - Moncalieri (TO) ITALY.
    11. Arnott, James C., 2021. "Pens and purse strings: Exploring the opportunities and limits to funding actionable sustainability science," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(10).
    12. Paolo Esposito & Paolo Ricci & Alessandro Sancino, 2021. "Leading for social change: Waste management in the place of social (ir)responsibility," Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 28(2), pages 667-674, March.
    13. Hickey, Gordon M., 2013. "International developments in the administration of publicly-funded forest research: A review," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 1-8.
    14. Apu Manna & Tarak Nath Sahu & Krishna Dayal Pandey, 2020. "Board size, multiple directorship and performance of Indian listed firms," International Journal of Economics and Business Research, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 19(2), pages 111-129.
    15. Bruce A. Desmarais & John A. Hird, 2014. "Public policy's bibliography: The use of research in US regulatory impact analyses," Regulation & Governance, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 8(4), pages 497-510, December.
    16. Sergio Salles-Filho & Adriana Bin & Kleinsy Bonilla & Fernando Antonio Basile Colugnati, 2021. "Effectiveness by Design: Overcoming Orientation and Transaction Related Barriers in Research-Industry Linkages," RAC - Revista de Administração Contemporânea (Journal of Contemporary Administration), ANPAD - Associação Nacional de Pós-Graduação e Pesquisa em Administração, vol. 25(5), pages 190346-1903.

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