State of Innovation: The U.S. Government's Role in Technology Development

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9781594518249: State of Innovation: The U.S. Government's Role in Technology Development

Since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, American politics has been dominated by the idea that free markets are the most effective way to organize economic activity. Private firms, disciplined by the competitive rigors of the market, are forced to innovate, adapt, and become more efficient in order to outpace rivals, continuously satisfy consumers, and meet new demands. Government, in this view, is the problem : regulation, taxation, and policy interventions disrupt open competition, stifle innovation, and breed inefficiency. But the dirty secret behind the façade of the Washington consensus is that over the last four decades, government programs and policies have quietly become ever more central to the American economy. From basic research to commercialization, the fingerprints of government can be found in virtually every major industrial success story of the late 20th and early 21st century. This volume provides the first comprehensive account of the depth, magnitude, and structure of the U.S. government s role in the innovation economy. A cross-disciplinary group of authors collectively document, theorize, and evaluate the decentralized set of agencies, programs, and policies at the core of the collaborative linkages between public agencies and the private industries at the forefront of the U.S. economy. Equally important, as the U.S. seeks to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the volume addresses issues critical to the construction of newly responsible, forward-looking public policies: how can we forge an innovation policy that is at once flexible, effective and efficient, as well as transparent and accountable?

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The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression has generated a fundamental re-evaluation of the free-market policies that have dominated American politics for three decades. State of Innovation brings together critical essays looking at the 'innovation industry' in the context of the current crisis. The book shows how government programs and policies have underpinned technological innovation in the US economy over the last four decades, despite the strength of 'free market' political rhetoric. The contributors provide new insights into where innovations come from and how governments can support a dynamic innovation economy as the US recovers from a profound economic crisis. State of Innovation outlines a 21st century policy paradigm that will foster cutting-edge innovation which remains accountable to the public.

About the Author:

Fred Block is an economic and political sociologist at the University of California, Davis. His books include, The Origins of International Economic Disorder (California) and Postindustrial Possibilities (California). He has been studying U.S. innovation policies since 2006 with support from the Ford Foundation.

Matthew R. Keller is an Assistant Professor at Southern Methodist University. His research explores shifts in dominant intellectual and political trends and their relation to government organization and policy. One strand of his current work investigates innovation policies and dynamics; a second explores how governments respond to episodes of collective violence.

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