Peter Smith

Publications, Lectures and Other Stuff

Innovation and the Role of Government

3 useful recent articles on innovation:

1. An article in NYRB by Jeff Madrick, ‘Innovation: The Government Was Crucial After All’. it reviews 2 books: The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths by Mariana Mazzucato, and Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Markets, Speculation and the State by William H. Janeway.

The basic argument is that contrary to a popular recent myth government spending has historically played a major role in technological innovation, has generally been successful, and has been far more willing to take risks than privately-funded research. Many examples are cited, including the internet and research into new drugs. It is noted that whilst private research is also of great value, some of it piggy-backs on existing government-funded research.  .

The article, dated 24 April 2014, is here:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/apr/24/innovation-government-was-crucial-after-all/

 

2. An article in Slate by Peter H. Schuck, ‘The Top 12 Government Programs Ever: What did they get right that so many others don’t?’.This is related to his book Why Government Fails So Often: And How it Can Do Better, and asks which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? He cites various programmes which he judges successful, and opines that the following are common characteristics:

-i. That they eliminate barriers to opportunity (e.g. racial barriers; outdated immigration policies).

-ii. That they strengthen work incentives.

-iii. That they give resources to those positioned to exploit them (e.g. the Homestead and Morrill Acts).

-iv. That they simplify rules and administration

-v. That they fulfill basic moral imperatives (e.g. the GI Bill).

-vi. That they go ‘where markets fear to tread’ (e.g. many infrastructure projects; the National Science Foundation).

The whole article, dated 21 April 2014, is here:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2014/04/the_top_dozen_federal_government_programs_in_history.html

 

3. A BBC article by Stephen Evans, ’10 inventions that owe their success to World War One’, dated 13 April 2014. It can be found here:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26935867?ocid=socialflow_facebook

 

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This entry was posted on April 23, 2014 by in The World Today and tagged , , , .
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