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Governance Through Social Learning

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Gilles Paquet

A - International Perspectives

Chapter 4. Science and Technology Policy Under Free Trade1

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  • 1 This paper also appeared in Technology in Society 1989, 11(2), 221–234. The assistance of Denis Ju (...)

We should not be swayed by our theories to give up common sense too easily.
– Karl Popper

1The structure of the national output of advanced economies has changed dramatically since the Second World War: it has shifted more and more away from the production of material goods toward the production of services and information. Knowledge and information have become both a dominant form of output and a separate factor of production: knowledge differentials have come to be regarded as the new basis of comparative advantage and specialization in the world economy (Perroux 1970; Jussawalla and Cheah 1984).

2This new knowledge/information economy as an instituted process is substantially different from the previous incarnations of our economy. When land was its centre of gravity, the network of institutions used to coordinate economic activities had much to do with bargaining over rent; with the growth of commercial capitalism, the market became the core institution and the key bargain was overprice; and with the emergence of the industrial world bargaining focused on wages. Now that the central feature of our socioeconomy is information/knowledge, the key bargain between the different stakeholders is over the control of the forum (Tussman 1977; Paquet 1987a). The whole architecture of our coordinating institution has been or is in the process of being reshaped to deal with this new central reality.

3The notion of forum is used here not to refer to a particular place, but in a more general way — as we speak of “the market” — to refer to a “whole range of institutions and situations of public communication... [a] system of opportunities and protections” (Tussman 1977). These institutions have to do with the production, allocation, distribution, and regulation of awareness, cognitive energy, symbolic resources, research, knowledge, and information.

4In the forum, research, science, and technology raise the question of the production of new knowledge. But knowledge and information are not simple private commodities, and this poses a problem to the private enterprise system. Knowledge is costly to produce and the production of new knowledge (which is the outcome of research) is a high-risk activity, often with only a long-term payoff. Yet new knowledge, once produced, is in the nature of a public good. It can be used by one person without precluding use by others. Consequently, it appears beneficial to make it widely available at a nominal cost. But, if this is done, there will be little incentive for anyone to invest important and scarce resources in the production of new knowledge (Paquet and Taylor 1986).

5To resolve this problem, governments have designed many techniques (from temporary monopoly on new knowledge by its private producer, to public subsidy and tax breaks for private producers, to government-managed research). All these techniques are meant to alleviate the chronic problem of underinvestment in the production of new knowledge in a market economy.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY

6Science is defined in the Concise Oxford Dictionary as systematic and formulated knowledge, and technology as the science of the industrial arts (Tisdell 1981). One can imagine a continuum of overlapping domains ranging from pure science, to applied science, to technology. However, it is important to realize that this continuum is not a one-way street: pure science may never give rise to technical advance; technical advance may on the other hand occur by trial and error without science, and new scientific knowledge may also be triggered by questions raised at the technology and practice level (Feibleman 1961; Schon 1983; Paquet 1988b).

7The sort of questions that an economist is likely to pose about science and technology (S&T) are simple: Who ought to conduct research? How should they be compensated for their effort? What problems should they work on? How many and what kinds of strategies should be pursued in tackling these problems? And how should resources be allocated among research strategies and problems? The key challenge has to do with the setting up of coordinating mechanisms to answer these questions.

8One solution readily suggested by economists is that the market should provide the answers to these questions. But there are reasons to believe that the market solution is likely to be incorrect. Knowledge as a commodity has characteristics that make it rather special:

  • It is a public good.
  • There are strong economies of scale in its production and use.
  • Uncertainty is acute in its use and production (Dasgupta and Stoneman 1987).
  • Waste results from duplication of search efforts in a simple competitive system.
  • Social failures occur in the transmission and diffusion of technical knowledge.
  • External industry-wide economies of development exist that individual and isolated decision-making might be led to ignore (Tisdell 1981; Kahn 1966).

9An additional complication can be ascribed to the fact that the production of new scientific and technological knowledge is the work of social communities and organizations that have quite distinct attitudes toward the output of research. At one end of the spectrum, science views knowledge as a good for public consumption, while at the other end, technology regards it as a private capital good (Dasgupta and Stoneman 1987). This triggers different ethos and different norms and rules of conduct: the scientist’s reward comes from being the first to come up with and fully disclose new results, while the technologist’s reward comes from capturing rents from new findings on which proprietary rights are exercised (Dasgupta and David 1987). In both cases, however, the premium on being first is such that it may lead to undue haste, duplication of efforts, and waste.

10A final complication comes from the fact that the notion of knowledge in the whole range from science to technology is often presented in simplistic terms, as a blueprint or a recipe. Tacit skill, training, and communication are also involved in acquiring new knowledge or in implementing a technology. Individual traits and idiosyncrasies are also significant. In all likelihood, these elements of the tacit and of the idiosyncratic mean that there is no one best way always and for everyone. “Knowing how to produce a product is as much experienced tacit skill as articulable knowledge. And contrary to the implicit general theory, the tacit skills of one ‘skilled in the art’ are not interchangeable; who works with the recipe makes a difference” (Rosenberg 1982; Murnane and Nelson 1984; Dosi et al. 1988; Paquet 1989d).

11From this cluster of arguments flows the presumption that the market system may not automatically produce the optimal amount of new knowledge in the forum and may not produce it optimally. One possibility is that too little may be invested in such activities because of the fact that the costs are largely internal to the firm, whereas a substantial portion of the benefits are external to the firm; or because myopic decisions may not lead to taking full advantage of intertemporal scale economies or industry-wide external economies; or because the high degree of uncertainty may discourage a sufficient research effort because of imperfect capital markets. A second possibility is that too much may be invested in R&D because of fixation on the reward mechanism of being first: this inevitably leads to duplication, overcrowding of promising paths, and often neglect of long shots as a valuable hedge from society’s viewpoint (Dasgupta and Stiglitz 1980). A third possibility is that the new knowledge produced may be generated ineffectively, inefficiently, and uneconomically both because of excessive competition triggered by the winner-takes-all reward system and because of a lack of understanding and concern for the tacit and the idiosyncratic in the diffusion and implementation of this new knowledge.

12All these factors point to the need for government intervention, for a S&T policy. But such a policy should not be simply couched in terms of additional funding for R&D in the hope that technical advance will ensue. Although popular in government circles, this sort of strategy is unlikely to solve the problem and may even lead to instances of “government failures” that would not necessarily correct the existing “market failures” (Dosi et al. 1988). What is needed is an answer to the five economic questions posed above: who? what? how? etc. This in turn requires a politics of cognitive energy and a better forum: experimentation with quick feedback is the only way to learn if one is concerned about guiding the evolution of the socio-technologic-economic system through good use of the forum and government as a learning system (Schon 1971).

13In general, most governments (in large or small economies) have taken note of the challenges posed by S&T. Each country has at least an implicit science policy (concerned with education, the stock of knowledge, its availability and use, and R&D) and a de facto technology policy (concerned with the adoption and use of techniques — innovation, diffusion of techniques, and their replacement) (Tisdell 1981). Although this de facto policy is often nothing more than ritualized adhocery, it represents some basic choices: more or less relative emphasis on the science end or on the technology end of the spectrum, more emphasis on production of new knowledge as opposed to the diffusion of existing knowledge, greater reliance on public or private production, more or less competitive or complementary routes in the production of knowledge, etc. For instance, some countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, and France have focused relatively more on the science end to realize certain radical innovations needed to reach goals of national importance. Other countries like Germany, Switzerland, and Sweden have focused on the diffusion of technology at the other end of the spectrum to facilitate the ongoing and incremental adaptation of their economies to change (Dasgupta and Stoneman 1987).

14But there have been broad trends in the action of governments on this front over the last decades. First, S&T policy has become more explicit. Second, it has evolved more or less in step in the various countries: in general, S&T policy in the post Second World War period was geared to economic growth; in the 1960s to the mid-1970s, quality of life and environmental concerns generated a series of questions about S&T and the emergence of a defensive policy stand; more recently, concerns about national competitiveness in the international arena and about international spillovers of development based on S&T have generated a renewed interest in a proactive S&T policy.

15In general, governments now have a sense that they should intervene in the forum to ensure a leadership “that enlightens, teaches, and forces us to attend to the necessary agenda” (Tussman 1977). However — and this is a third trend — vast amounts of resources have been spent in pursuit of creation of new knowledge, much less for the dissemination of existing knowledge — a strategy that would appear especially well suited for small countries.

16Fourth, governments have generally based their policy actions on a rather ill-founded model of the innovative process: it is not sufficient to spend more money on R&D to generate innovation. There is much that is tacit and idiosyncratic about innovation and about the diffusion of new technology. Transfer of new instrumentalities between sectors depends much on these factors. Yet governments have made little effort to develop such a knowledge base (Cairncross 1972; Bonin and Desranleau 1988; Paquet 1989d).

17Finally, it appears clear that experimentation with government policy designed to identify who should do what in what manner and with what public support has not generated any golden rule readily applicable everywhere; indeed some have expressed skepticism about the possibility of eliciting such general guiding principles (Pavitt and Soete 1981).

18These modest accomplishments do not suggest that government action is not warranted to ensure that additional resources are allocated to the production of new knowledge or to facilitate the diffusion of this new knowledge among sectors or to design a better fit between S&T and the national sociocultural underground. Structural features may also be in need of repair: government laboratories may have taken on too large a share of research in certain countries, transfer of new knowledge may be unduly difficult from government laboratories to industrial plants, and formulation of explicit priorities without rigid commitments may increase flexibility and speed of reaction to new circumstances. But it would be unwise to expect that, in this evolutionary process of change where goals are complex and ambiguous and where means–end relationships are highly uncertain and poorly understood, government policy will be able to do anything more than ensure that the requisite variety of experimentation is conducted, that feedback information becomes available a bit faster, and that the unintended consequences of S&T developments are assessed more vigilantly.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY IN THE INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT

19The technical literature on the interface between S&T, on one hand, and international trade, on the other, suggests that international differences in technological levels and innovative capabilities are beginning to be the major forces shaping trade flows and the international division of labour.

20Three thrusts of forces are at work in three interlocking subsystems: an evolutionary technological system dominated by the logic of science and technique in the sense of Jacques Ellul (1954); an evolving system of multinational enterprises covering the world with a number of managerial nets and internal trading systems; and a mosaic of nation states intent on designing policies maximizing benefits to nationals via subsidies and regulation of the forum.

The Technological Paradigm

21S&T constitute a techno-economic system that has a dynamic of its own: a “technological paradigm” defining contextually “the needs that are meant to be fulfilled, the scientific principles utilized for the task, the material technology to be used” (Dosi et al. 1988). This paradigm exists at the transnational level and from it evolve technological trajectories: progress along the technological and economic trade-offs defined by the paradigm. The combustion engine or microelectronics are examples of such paradigms gridlocking firms and industries throughout the world economic system. For the behaviour of firms and industries is influenced by the macro-technological regime that defines the rules of the game. This regime shapes the focusing devices or guideposts used by firms to organize their search for better technologies.

22The technological paradigm is based on public knowledge shared by all actors involved in a family of activities — publications, etc. — and a structured set of technological externalities or synergies among sectors, technologies, and firms. This driving force often has unintended and irreversible outcomes, as in Silicon Valley. By following the path, industries enjoy dynamic increasing returns and are in some way locked into particular technologies.

23There remains a tacit firm-specific or country-specific form of knowledge that will explain why some firms, some countries, or some firms in some countries have more or less success, and their choice of techniques may be influenced through inducement mechanisms (emerging either from autonomous changes in relative prices or from some manipulation of policy variables), but all this develops within the boundary defined by the technological paradigm (Dosi et al. 1988). For Dosi and colleagues, the technology establishes “untraded interdependencies” or “synergies” between sectors, technologies, and firms. Even those who have been critical of the evolutionary paradigm expounded by Dosi and others have acknowledged the importance of this nexus of technological forces (De Bresson 1987).

Multinational Enterprises and Technology Transfer

24The race to be in the lead technologically has been based on the belief that the control of new technology entails the control of markets for new products and progressive industries. Indeed, it has been shown that large U.S. companies expect to draw close to one-third of the returns on their R&D projects from overseas markets via all marketing channels — subsidiaries, licensing, and export of innovative goods (Caves 1982). But this technological lead is always precarious, and there is imitation after a lag period. Therefore, the innovative firm is always torn between two temptations: trying to maintain a monopoly on existing knowledge in the country of origin to control lucrative export markets; or transferring the technology and profiting via licensing or foreign investment. The shareholders demand that the right trade-offs be struck.

25The futility of efforts to prevent the transfer of technology in the long run has led to the development of increasingly effective modes of international technology transfer to take advantage of the lead while it lasts. The most effective vehicle in this process has turned out to be the multinational enterprise — not only because of the difficulty of trading information and knowledge on markets, but also because of the tacit and the idiosyncratic elements attached to technology. Both transfer costs that are more significant when the transfer is at arm’s length than when it is through a firm. After a detailed examination of technology transfer in the electrical industry, Harold Crookell (1973) concludes that

The transmission of technology within an administrative unit is more efficient — in terms of speed, cost and scope — than transmission across the open market.... Managing the transmission process is an extraordinarily complex and sensitive affair. Insecurity, risk and rapid change abound, and demand an adaptive system with major constraints aimed at controlling relevance.

26Multinational enterprises have become so important that a substantial portion of international trade is now intrafirm trade, i.e., via nonmarket or quasi-market channels. Moreover, the multinational enterprise has not only been used to transfer technology from the home country to the host country, but also to tap inventiveness and innovative activities there. In fact, in many cases, multinational enterprises have become vehicles of “reverse technology transfer” from the host country to the home of the multinational enterprises (Cheng 1984).

National Government Policies

27National governments have their own priorities, and they differ from those of the shareholders in the multinationals: they wish to maximize benefits to nationals. At first, regulatory strategies were designed to prevent technology from flowing out, but they proved futile except in the short run. The quasi-rents earned from gaining the lead are quickly eroded by international diffusion of the technology. Consequently, governments have come to realize that a successful policy would have to interfere with the whole innovation process and implement rules that are likely to generate a larger continuous stream of new ideas, to ensure that such ideas are transmitted more quickly to potential users, and to encourage domestic firms to exploit more fully their technological lead internationally.

28Governments have chosen different strategies depending on the size of the country and the degree of technological sophistication of their socioeconomics. Large countries like the United States have emphasized the production side or new knowledge, through procurement and subsidies; smaller ones like Sweden have emphasized the diffusion side. Advanced countries have exploited their advantage through foreign investment, licensing, and exports; less advanced host countries have attempted to encourage the transfer of laboratories overseas by offering various tax holidays or simply protection and subsidies for certain segments of their industries with the hope of limiting their technological dependence or even altering the existing technological leadership (Cheng 1984).

29The effectiveness of these policy initiatives has been limited, but they have had a steering effect. Segments of the forum have been strengthened and expertise has been built up in certain fields, whereas other areas have been allowed to deteriorate. Deliberate policies designed to spread knowledge have entailed a redistribution of resources that so-called centres of excellence have complained about. The result has been an allocation of cognitive energy in various countries according to very different patterns; more important, maybe, has been the politics of awareness and the mobilization of the citizenry in support of such choices. Almost every country can boast of slogans like “virage technologique” or “innovaction” — to use Canadian labels — as marketing devices for some brand of S&T policy.

30As a result of the relative inefficiency of the market in this domain, the major players are likely to be governments and multinationals trying to take advantage of the evolutionary inertia of technique: the governments through subsidies, procurement, discrimination, regulations, and controls, and the multinationals by building on synergies and “untraded interdependencies.” Those nonmarket hierarchies may not act entirely without constraints, as the technological paradigm constrains them, but their action is bound to affect the paradigm in an evolutionary way.

31As a result of these strong nonmarket forces dominating the weak price–quantity adjustments between sectors and between countries, the major adjustment mechanism in the world economy has been world market shares: the gains in market shares ascribable to country-specific absolute advantages, i.e., country-specific conditions of technological learning based on degree of innovativeness related to “[i] science-related opportunities, [ii] country-specific and technology-specific institutions which foster/hinder the emergence of new technological paradigms, and [iii] the nature and intensity of economic stimuli” (Dosi et al. 1988). Technological leadership has replaced factor endowment as the main force shaping trade flows.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY UNDER FREE TRADE

32The establishment of a free-trade area first entails tariff reductions and increased trade in finished products, i.e., in embodied technology, and less transfer of technology per se. Existing firms are more likely to bet on economies of scale at existing plants and less likely to need to license technology when there is no incentive to overcome tariff barriers (Bell and Vickery 1988). But multinationals are not only tariff-jumpers. They often seek proximity to markets, market niches, and cost advantages that a host country can offer. To the extent that these other forces are at work, tariff reduction will be a less-powerful trade creator.

33In a world dominated by the three sets of nonmarket forces identified above (technological, multinational, government), the elimination of tariff barriers will not make a great deal of difference. The technological paradigm is still evolving, the multinationals are still active, and governments have not lost their rationale for supporting R&D (i.e., underinvestment because of market failures and externalities) and crafting a S&T strategy. Therefore, the impact of any free-trade arrangement will only have a major impact to the extent that nontariff barriers are overhauled and the rules of the “economic war” between nations are altered.

34The objective of developing a level playing field may be invoked, but governments do not readily agree to abandon national privileges or pretend to legislate away particularly apt synergies generating absolute advantages. Therefore, S&T policies will continue to be built on a structure of government subsidies, on various property laws, on limited access to government-sponsored research by foreign firms, on discriminatory public procurement, and on various overt and covert devices for taking advantage of national circumstances and synergies.

35For example, Canada’s decision to eliminate intellectual property from free-trade discussions with the United States can be interpreted as a decision either to impose a nonmarket coordinating mechanism for dealing with such issues in the national interest or to reserve judgment in this area for future policymaking. In either case, the challenge remains clear: the need to define the optimal S&T policy in the face of free trade (i.e., the one promoting competitiveness and larger market shares in strategic sectors). And even though some people are very pessimistic about the possibility of ever developing general principles for the design of such policies (Pavitt and Soete 1981), this should not be construed as an invitation for governments to abandon the instruments at their disposal to craft such policies. We are simply in the beautiful world of the second-best.

36In a world of increasing returns to scale, unaided markets cannot be expected to regulate world trade effectively. Normally when demand falls, output is reduced, average costs fall, and prices decrease. Lower output leads to more efficiency and lower prices. However, with increasing returns to scale, a decline in demand leads to a reduction in the level of output with consequent increases in average costs and prices. The price increase triggers a further decline in demand and a cumulative self-reinforcing downward movement in economic activity. Thus an increasing-returns-to-scale economy is much more unstable and much more sensitive to disturbance.

37In a knowledge-based economy subject to accelerating change, new technologies generate increasing returns to scale and this has costs as well as benefits: the central cost is that it reduces the ability of the economy to adjust smoothly to a changing environment. Under these circumstances, free trade and its implicit reliance on markets is no panacea. What is needed, instead, is an aid to the market, i.e., managed trade. “In an international economy with increasing returns situations, all the gains from free trade may accrue to just one trading partner, with the others possibly even being net losers. Active management of trade may be required to ensure market clearing and Pareto efficiency” (Chichilnisky and Heal 1986). Managed trade is, therefore, necessary on the grounds of both efficiency and distribution.

38In these circumstances, any S&T policy based on substantive but carefully selected trade restrictions geared to support, build, or bolster some national advantages may indeed generate more trade than no restriction at all. Japan provides such a case. The central question is to determine what sort of planned objectives are being pursued and how they can be reached at minimal social cost. This is the purpose of an industrial policy: “cherry pick” (Harris 1985).

39How can one arrive at a definition of such a useful S&T policy well rooted in Canadian circumstances and values? It cannot be done unilaterally from the centre by technocrats. They have only a small amount of the necessary information. Consequently, this sort of approach is bound to fail as it has many times, in many places. In the information socioeconomy, participatory design of such a policy is the only path likely to be successful (Masuda 1982).

40This suggestion does not flow from any ideological fix: it is a consequence of the ill-structured nature of the question at hand. In case of ill-structured problems, analysts must learn on the job about both the configuration of facts and the configuration of values, but they must also manage to learn from the stakeholders in the policy game and from the many groups at the periphery who are in possession of important local knowledge, for without their participation no meaningful policy can be implemented.

41Friedmann and Abonyi (1976) propose a social learning model of policy research to deal with these problems. It combines a detailed analysis of four subprocesses: (1) the construction of appropriate theories of reality, (2) the formation of social values, (3) the gaming that leads to the design of political strategies, and (4) the carrying out of collective action. These four interconnected subprocesses are components of a social learning process: any change in one affects the others. This paradigm of social practice in policy research is depicted in a graph by Friedmann and Abonyi that is reproduced in Figure 5 (Chapter 2).

42The social learning paradigm is built on reflection-in-action, dialogue, mutual learning by experts and clients, i.e., on an interactive or transactive style of planning: “The paradigm makes the important epistemological assumption that action hypotheses are verified as “correct” knowledge only in the course of a social practice that includes the four components of theory (of reality), values, strategy, and action. A further epistemological commitment is to the creation of a new reality, and hence to a new knowledge, rather than in establishing the truth-value of propositions in abstraction from the social context to which they are applied” (Friedmann and Abonyi 1976; Schon 1983; Paquet, this volume, Chapter 3).

43This is a way to develop an S&T policy that suits national circumstances, values, and synergies, a way to launch a major social experiment that would elicit the appropriate role of government in the affairs of the mind in any country that would care to embark on such an experiment. This is an occasion to reflect on the stock of knowledge available, on the uses made of it, on the education system, on the pattern of research effort, on the idiosyncratic nature of the innovative process, and on the diffusion of innovation, but also more broadly on awareness, symbolic resources, and cognitive energy.

44Free trade does not mean that national governments should forego important levers and freedom of action to manage trade to the national advantage; it only means that such actions are now somewhat constrained. If a government were forced to forego the possibility of crafting an S&T strategy as a result of a free-trade agreement, it could only be regarded as an immense price to pay for the arrangement.

45It has been argued that such is the case with the Canada–United States Free-Trade Agreement. By progressively raising the threshold on direct acquisitions from $5 million to $150 million, articles 1602 and 1607 supposedly exempt such acquisitions from investment review and, thus, from R&D performance requirements. On the other hand, the United States retains the policy power on this front on both their mammoth defense budget and the provisions for a small-business component of government expenditures (McCurdy 1988; McCurdy and Lenihan 1988; Steed 1988). Such a loss of margin of maneuverability is obviously of significance on the S&T front.

46So free trade does not make S&T policy less important but gives it greater valence. In an information economy, knowledge is a central input and the production of knowledge, a pivotal activity. Governments are responsible for ensuring that cognitive energies are effectively deployed in the pursuit of knowledge. Such policies at this time are the equivalent of railroad construction and other transportation ventures in the 19th century.

47There is no reason to believe that the “natural” outcome of the technological paradigm and of multinationals’ activities will correspond to the optimal situation for nationals. Indeed, there is a possibility that just as free trade was an instrument of economic conquest for Britain in the 19th century — some have labeled that strategy “the imperialism of free trade” — it might be the same for large efficient economies in the 20th century. Managing our trade might be a way out but it can only be done if powerful instruments can be mustered.

48During the debate on the free-trade arrangement between Canada and the United States, there was a claim that sectors overtly protected by nontariff barriers amounted to 34% of the market for American manufacturers; the comparable figure for Canada appeared to be 10% (Science Council of Canada 1986). Given these figures, some people wonder why the Canadian government appears to have abandoned so many levers on the S&T front: they would appear to be most important in crafting an effective strategy. But governments only echo, however inadequately, the sentiments of the citizenry. A 1985 survey of senior executives in many countries revealed that “43% of Canadian managers see innovation as an important management issue — an astoundingly low figure compared to the world average of 90%” (Science Council of Canada 1986). It would appear that Canadians who have received their technology as “manna” from the multinationals for a long period — two-thirds of Canadian manufacturing is foreign controlled — do not yet see the central importance of this variable and the need to explore alternatives. On this count, the government appears to be in tune with the country’s senior executives. I know of no single fact that underlines better the need to design a S&T policy in the manner suggested above, i.e., though awareness-raising and transactive planning. Canadá may be an extreme case but it is far from unique.

CONCLUSION

49There is not likely to be a major change in the attitudes of Canadians vis-à-vis S&T in the next while, unless something is done to raise their awareness. But the existence of this blind spot reveals something more serious: a lack of sensitivity to and concern for the new realm of policy areas that have become central in a knowledge-based economy. The whole range of issues from education, to the stock of knowledge, to innovation are only some aspects of the workings of the forum. An information policy would provide a framework on which to graft specific strategies on matters pertaining to education, science, innovation, and the like.

50The simple parachuting in of such a policy through some sort of epistemological coup d’état would be futile, because the citizens of most Western countries have not yet fully understood the importance of such issues in the new economy. S&T policy is simply a policy about the production and distribution of certain types of knowledge. It is only a part of a broader domain of knowledge ranging from the artistic and the cultural to the political and the technical. Without a national information policy (Nanus 1982) spelling out the way in which the forum should be managed to be fair and adequate, it is not possible to know what importance should be assigned to scientific and technological knowledge or to determine what should be produced, by whom, and in what manner.

51“The community has a great stake in the condition of its knowledge-creating and transmitting institutions, in its institutions for informing, discussing, deliberating, deciding” (Tussman 1977). Yet citizens are not persuaded that matters of the mind are important in a managerial sense for the public household. To the extent that debates for freer trade succeed in revealing the limits of market liberalization in a knowledge-based economy, it might be a unique occasion to renew the multilogue on S&T policy that has been somewhat muted for the last decade.

Notes de fin

1 This paper also appeared in Technology in Society 1989, 11(2), 221–234. The assistance of Denis Jubinville and Marc Racette has been invaluable.

© Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa | University of Ottawa Press, 1999

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