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Article Summary of "science and Technology Policies, National Competitiveness, and the Innovation Divide" by Carin Holroyd

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May 10, 2011

Article Summary

"Science and Technology Policies, National Competitiveness, and the Innovation Divide" -Carin Holroyd


A technological development have allowed for more efficient transfer of goods and services and has the world on a trend towards a globalized economy; different regions (within and beyond national borders) are interdependent although they have specialized resources and production, each part is essential to complete the final product. Developing countries in Asia, such as China and Taiwan, have promoted their manufacturing industries causing a decline of such industries in the developed world due to their relatively higher production costs. More developed countries have begun shifting focus from their failing manufacturing industries to promoting science, technology, energy solutions, and product development. Likewise, today's economy is dominated by technology giants such as Nokia, RIM, and Google, not the manufacturing, auto, or steel industries as seen not more than a decade ago.

We must analyze different strategies and plans different governments implement and the correlating results on the nation's economy. One concern was the "digital divide" that refers to the national differences in reactions to new technologies such as the internet and how different rates of uptake of technology has affected countries' development and situations. Perceptions of what government should do have changed over the years back and forth from times of high government involvement during the world wars, to the 80s where the government had a laissez faire attitude and did very little, then back to times of recession where the population demanded for the government bail out and action. In the mid 19th century European empires extended the globe, the United States was on the rise, and the 60's was the dawn of the technological boom in Japan followed by other East Asian countries soon after. The conditions for a free market seem to stand in direct tradeoff with national economic stability. Governments under Regan and Thatcher reduced taxes, regulations, and reduced trade barriers, believed to have triggered the period of prosperity that followed; Smith's 'invisible hand' would regulate and ensure the business cycle and the government should have minimal involvement. Although many credit these changes with economic growth they may also have compromised the nations' economic stability. In today's global economy critics argue that national agendas are outweighed by interests and investments that extend national borders; the actions of private corporations collaborating for research, development, and specialized labor inevitably affect the nation's as well as the global economy. Again recalling the affect of the "digital divide" that has allowed some nations to excel and grow exponentially while others continue struggling with poverty and stagnant growth. Although wealthier countries may dedicate only a small percentage of their resources to science and technology the same amount is unmatchable by poorer countries continuing to widen that divide.

Having a large population located on a relatively small area of land, Japan's economy has long depended on trade, refining imported materials into actualized products. By the 70's Japan was already a leader in manufacturing; the nation experienced a time of financial prosperity for the upcoming decades. The oil crisis in the same decade had the American market open up as smaller cars became preferred and the Japanese auto industry prospered. Japan had accumulated wealth from the manufacturing boom since the 70's and in the 90's the government devoted a total of just under $200 billion dollars to the Science and Technology sectors of the economy enabling them to build the infrastructure for lasting growth. The Japanese government developed 3 basic plans implemented over the last decade to ensure their position as world leaders. Universities and research facilities were created and promoted to ensure skilled labor, to attract great minds from overseas, and increase product development and innovation.

Canada has a small population relative to the area encompassed by her national borders and her economy depends strongly on her natural resources. Canada has housed manufacturing infrastructure for trade with the United States, who also buy most of the raw materials that provides the finance to drive the economy. Although natural resources are a strong currency, Canada has seen competition from rising Asian manufacturing industries. Leaders search for alternative sectors to promote jobs and growth. With a decline in the manufacturing industry, developing the science and technology sectors is the most prospective option. Although Canada ranks in the top five for percentage of national GDP invested in science and technology other nations such as Japan were growing more quickly with higher government investment and prerogative. Under the conservative government's prerogative to lower taxes on new businesses to stimulate growth alongside government support for research they hope to invest in strategic and specialized areas of Science and Technology to dominate niche sectors as leaders such as Japan are already so powerful and farther ahead in development, Canada's resources and efforts would be stretched too thin to compete in numerous fields. Government actions to ensure economic stability such as, monitoring banks and corporate actions, cushioned the Canadian economy during the recent recession; during this time of low unemployment, growth in S&T areas, and strong Canadian currency, the decision to dedicate a higher percentage of GDP to R&D would be most well accepted.

Nigeria, having gained independence in 1960 and slavery abolished barely 25 years earlier, is in a far different situation than Japan or Canada. Commodities such as clean water and



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