New directions in research and technology policy: Identifying the key issues
This paper outlines a conceptual framework and some empirical objectives for analytical work on research and innovation policy. It sketches some major changes which have occurred in our understanding of the links between science, innovation and technological change over the past twenty years, considers their policy implications, and then suggests some core priorities for research in such fields as research policy studies, growth economics, the economics of technological change, innovation and firm studies, etc. The basic problem is to explore the policy implications of the move to a knowledge-based economy. This has a number of dimensions, which at a minimum include basic science policy, technology policies aimed at invention and innovation, diffusion policies, and all policies related to the adoption of new technologies technology policy aspects of industrial and regional policies human capital, human resources and mobility, including all aspects of education and training This paper concerns only parts of these issues; it focuses on the conceptual basis, structure and content of a research programme directed towards industrial innovation and diffusion policy, at national and regional levels. Over the past two decades, social scientists in a range of fields have in effect carried out a major programme of research on science, technology and innovation. If there is any unity in this research, it is simply the view that these activities are social and economic processes, not simply technical processes of discovery and invention. The argument here is that this research has reached the stage where it is both necessary and possible to rethink the rationale, objectives and instruments of policies in the general areas of science, technology, innovation and industrial change. At the same time, this background research work opens up new areas of policy-relevant questions. This paper therefore overviews some of the main themes in modern research in innovation and technological change, focusing on their implications for policy. How does recent research change our conceptions of the appropriate objectives and methods of science and technology policy? Against this background, what are the main unresolved problems facing policy-makers over the next ten years? What kinds of conclusions can we draw regarding research priorities and objectives for policy researchers in the years ahead? After discussing these issues, the next section explores how these problems can be investigated.
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