Science and Innovation Policy Studies in the United States: Past and Present
Over the last four years, a new generation of research on science and innovation policy has begun in the United States. The development is very welcome after a hiatus in funding for the field of a decade or more. Although research in the new generation builds on a solid base of earlier scholarship, the new wave is quite different from its predecessors in a variety of ways. This paper reviews the past development of the field and describes the emergence of the present generation, pointing to its distinctive structural features. In brief, the first generation of science and innovation policy studies (SIPS) was commissioned through policy analysis offices whose primary mission was short-term analysis of current issues directly for decision makers. Research done in this mode had a high probability of being useful in the policy process, both because its subjects were prescreened and because there was an intermediate organization that absorbed the results and applied them in short-term policy analysis requested by decision makers. In this paper, I call this the mediated model for policy-relevant research. The second generation of SIPS, in contrast, is steered more generally by a roadmap developed collectively across government agencies, and the research program that supports it is working on building a broader “community of practice” that includes agency and Congressional staff, short-term analysts, and researchers. In this paper, I call this the distributed model for policy-relevant research. It is impossible to compare the results of the two models -- too late to collect data for the first generation and too early to see the results of the second. They are by no means mutually exclusive. Both belong on any menu of options for new program structures in other countries.
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