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Defense R&D and information technology in a long-term perspective la rd militaire et les technologies de l'information en longue période

Listed author(s):
  • Renaud Bellais


    (labrii, ULCO)

Registered author(s):

    Defense R&D is usually considered as an economic burden, implying an eviction effect on civilian R&D and perverting the national systems of innovation. If arms production benefits nowadays from advanced civilian R&D, the flow of technology was not always in the same direction–especially in the 1950s and 1960s. Moreover, since the beginning of the 1990s, some technologies, classified for a long time as purely defense ones (GaAs, GPS, computer networking, etc.), have found new civilian applications. Why technological opportunities created by defense R&D are not systematically seized by commercial firms? First, technology transfers come true only when a legal framework exists and allows commercial firms to get access to the « military technological fund ». Second, the global economic context appears as the greatest incentive to engage civilian firms in exploiting defense technologies, as an investment opportunity. In a long-term perspective, when specific conditions are set up or exist, defense R&D can become a means of strengthening the international competitiveness of national economies. La RD de défense est souvent considérée comme un fardeau pour l'économie, impliquant un effet d'éviction sur la RD civile et pervertissant le système national d'innovation. Si la production d'armements profite aujourd'hui des avancées de la RD civile, le flot de technologies n'a pas toujours été dans la même direction – tout particulièrement dans les années 1950 et 1960. De plus, depuis le début des années 1990, quelques technologies, longtemps classées comme purement militaires (GaAs, GPS, réseaux informatiques, etc.), ont trouvé de nouvelles applications civiles. Pour quelles raisons les opportunités technologiques créées par la R&D de défense ne sont-elles pas systématiquement saisies par les firmes commerciales ? Premièrement, les transferts de technologies se concrétisent seulement quand un cadre légal existe et autorise les firmes commerciales à avoir accès au « fonds technologique militaire ». Deuxièmement, le contexte économique global constitue une incitation importante pour engager les firmes civiles à exploiter les technologies de défense. Dans une perspective de longue période, quand les conditions idoines sont mises en place ou existent, la RD de défense peut ainsi devenir un moyen de renforcer la compétitivité internationale des économies nationales.

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    Paper provided by Laboratoire de Recherche sur l'Industrie et l'Innovation. ULCO / Research Unit on Industry and Innovation in its series Working Papers with number 28.

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    Length: 22 pages
    Date of creation: Oct 1999
    Publication status: Published in Cahiers du Lab.RII, Octobre 1999
    Handle: RePEc:rii:riidoc:28
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    1. 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.
    2. Lichtenberg, Frank R., 1995. "Economics of defense R&D," Handbook of Defense Economics,in: Keith Hartley & Todd Sandler (ed.), Handbook of Defense Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 15, pages 431-457 Elsevier.
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