Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Elements of the Public Policy of Science, Technology and Innovation/LES ÉLÉMENTS DE LA POLITIQUE PUBLIQUE DE LA SCIENCE, DE LA TECHNOLOGIE ET DE L' INNOVATION

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Elements of the Public Policy of Science, Technology and Innovation/LES ÉLÉMENTS DE LA POLITIQUE PUBLIQUE DE LA SCIENCE, DE LA TECHNOLOGIE ET DE L' INNOVATION

Article excerpt

Abstract: This work analyzes the structure, elements and formulation of science, technology and innovation policy, providing examples of countries on distinct continents. The authors show that the following elements can be used as the basis for analysis of national cases: institutions, legal framework, science policy agents, plans, programs, resources and assessment instruments.

Key words: Science and technology policy; innovation; research and development; science policy agents; legal framework of science policy

Résumé: Cet article analyse la structure, les éléments et la formulation de la politique de la science, de la technologie et de l'innovation, en fournissant des exemples des pays dans de différents continents. Les auteurs montrent que les éléments suivants peuvent être utilisés comme des bases d'analyse des cas nationaux: les institutions, le cadre juridique, les agents de la politique de science, les plans, les programmes, les ressources et les instruments d'évaluation.

Mots-clés: politique de la science et de la technologie; innovation; recherche et développement; agents de la politique de la scientifique; cadre juridique de la politique de la science

We see that knowledge, quite literally, makes the difference between poverty and wealth. (Kuznetsov & Dahlman, 2008, p. 6).


Scholars have long been interested in the problematic of social studies of science. As a result of this interest, there is a tendency among academics to believe that concern about science and technology activities has become a priority for governments, especially in the most industrialized countries like the U.S., Japan, Germany, France and so forth. Some scholars point out, for example, that the U.S. won World War II thanks to the strategic investment in science and technology manifested in the Manhattan Project.

However, scholars are not the only parties interested in the social dimensions of science. On the contrary, we can argue that for at least the past century, science and technology have been central to popular and especially political considerations and strategies, as demonstrated by precedent such as the public and widely followed debate between M. Polanyi and J. D. Bernal in the 1930s. Polanyi was a defender of the autonomy of science and the self-government of the scientific community, desiring that science participate in a lasting way in the resolution of social problems and needs. In turn, Bernal, under the influence of Marxist thinking, favored a science in the service of social and political needs, with government and civil society participating directly in the debate over science programs and their agendas. In 1939, Bernal advocated greater State investment in science and technology, after ascertaining that the United Kingdom dedicated only 0. 1 percent of its GDP to research and development (R&D), and the U.S. and the USSR only 0.6 and 0.8 percent respectively (Brooks, 1996, p. 15).

During World War II, this debate repeated itself in the U.S., with different names but the same basic concern: the future of science in national life. On the one hand, Vannevar Bush, as exemplified in his 1945 report Science: The Endless Frontier, defended a position similar to that of Polanyi. He saw universities as the institutions par excellence to embody the autonomy of science research and, as a consequence, its effects on the country's socio-economic sphere (Zachary, 1997). On the other hand, Senator Harley Martin Kilgore supported a posture similar to that of Bernal, stressing the need for government to play a prominent role in the development of the science research agenda (Brooks, 1996, p. 16). In light of the evolution of the problematic of science in political spheres, marked by the Cold War and the arms race, we might ask who, between Bush and Kilgore, was right. However, more than answering this question, what interests us here are the debate aroused and the role to be played by science activity in boosting or strengthening the socio-economic and political development of a country. …

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