Restoring the Innovative Edge: Driving the Evolution of Science and Technology

Restoring the Innovative Edge: Driving the Evolution of Science and Technology

Restoring the Innovative Edge: Driving the Evolution of Science and Technology

Restoring the Innovative Edge: Driving the Evolution of Science and Technology


Considerable evidence indicates that the U. S. is falling behind when it comes to innovation. In part, this shift stems from the globalization of research and the advancement of other nations. But, it also arises from a widespread failure to adapt to the competitive environment generated by the evolution of science and technology.

The objective of this book is to provide possible remedies for eight key obstacles that the U. S. faces in restoring its innovative edge. Understanding that these remedies are complex, each chapter also discusses the dilemmas and impediments that make change a challenge. Unlike other books that suggest simple fixes to the U. S. innovation crisis, this book argues that the management of innovation requires multiple interventions at four different levels: in research teams, organizations, economic and non-economic sectors, and society at large.

Restoring the Innovative Edge offers specific recommendations for new forms of data collection, fresh ideas about cooperation between the public and the private sectors in manufacturing research, and a policy evaluation model that measures technical progress- and obstacles to it- in real time. Moreover, the book's multi-level perspective allows for the integration of a number of specialties within Sociology and Management around the theme of a new socio-economic paradigm, built on ideas of evolution and failed evolution.


American industry faces a severe innovation crisis. Even though the United States had a positive trade balance in eleven high-tech areas, in 2002 the total balance of trade for these sectors went into deficit for the first time in the history of this country (see Figure I.1). in 2008, the high-tech deficit reached $58 billion despite the eroding value of the dollar and the growth in aircraft exports. More recently, however, this strong sector has been threatened by two-year delays in the production of Boeing’s new plane, the Dreamliner.

Other indicators point similarly in the direction of a decline in high technology. Several decades ago, the top twenty-five companies ranked according to their rdt (basic research, applied research, and product development) investments were all American companies. Now only nine are, and of these about half were reducing their rdt expenditures between 2003 and 2004— not a positive sign. Not unexpectedly, an annual measure of radical innovations, the top 100 achievements in commercialized products selected by R&D Magazine, documents the same kind of decline during the same period. Recognizing that there are limitations in having only 100 awards for achievements in commercialized products and always 100 and that the selection process largely excludes the computer industry and the pharmaceutical industry, the proportion of awards given to the large industrial firms went from about 45 percent in the 1970s to 12 percent in the 1990s, and the downward trend has continued since then with these large firms receiving only six awards in 2006. Still another indicator of technological decline is the proportion of all patents given to the major industrial research firms, especially General Electric (GE), Kodak, AT&T, DuPont, General Motors (GM), Dow Chemical, 3M, United . . .

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