Science and Technology Policy in the United States: Open Systems in Action

Science and Technology Policy in the United States: Open Systems in Action

Science and Technology Policy in the United States: Open Systems in Action

Science and Technology Policy in the United States: Open Systems in Action

Synopsis

In this lucidly-written introduction to the topic, Sylvia Kraemer draws upon her extensive experience in government to develop a useful and powerful framework for thinking about the American approach to shaping and managing scientific innovation. Kraemer suggests that the history of science, technology, and politics is best understood as a negotiation of ongoing tensions between open and closed systems. Open systems depend on universal access to information that is complete, verifiable, and appropriately used. Closed systems, in contrast, are composed of exclusive and often proprietary features, which are designed to control usage. Kramer shows the promise and limits of open systems in advancing scientific progress as well as the nation's economic vitality.

Excerpt

Between 1955 and 1970 federal funding in the United States for scientific research and development (R&D) increased sixfold, from about $6 billion to $36 billion. This relatively rapid infusion of public funds primarily into university research centers, enlarging some and creating others, was accompanied by the emergence of a new academic specialty: science and technology policy studies. Given the importance of government influence on the nature and volume of scientific research being conducted during the first two decades of the Cold War, it is not surprising that the fields of political science and public administration would respond by laying the foundations of our appreciation of the dynamics and consequences of the interactions between public policy and research and development.

If there was a pioneer in the literature generated by the new inquiry into the interplay between science and politics, it was Don K. Price. Price—who would become dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University—had served as a trusted aide to James Webb, director of the Bureau of the Budget (BOB; to be renamed Office of Management and Budget in 1970) during the creation of the National Science Foundation (NSF). In Price’s Government and Science (1954) and The Scientific Estate (1965) he acquainted a new generation of readers and scholars with the fact that scientists had become one of the four “estates”—scientists, professionals, administrators, and politicianscompeting for power and influence in constitutional government in the United States. Scientists and other professionals, no less than administrators and politicians, when acting in political roles are not, nor can they be, guided by what their learning has taught them.

Price’s Government and Science was followed in 1957 by A. Hunter Dupree’s Science in the Federal Government: A History of Policies and Activities and, during the 1960s, the publication of what have become classics in the literature of science and technology policy: Derek J. De Solla Price’s Little Science, Big Science (1963), Daniel Greenberg’s The Politics of Pure Science (1967), and Harvey Brooks’s The Government of Science (1968). During the more than three decades that followed, political scientists, economists, historians, public and private . . .

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