Science, Technology and Innovation

2949 Words Aug 29th, 2012 12 Pages
Policy Sci DOI 10.1007/s11077-011-9137-3

Science, technology and innovation in a 21st century context
John H. Marburger III

Ó Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

This editorial essay was prepared by John H. ‘‘Jack’’ Marburger for a workshop on the ‘‘science of science and innovation policy’’ held in 2009 that was the basis for this special issue. It is published posthumously. Linking the words ‘‘science,’’ ‘‘technology,’’ and ‘‘innovation,’’ may suggest that we know more about how these activities are related than we really do. This very common linkage implicitly conveys a linear progression from scientific research to technology creation to innovative products. More nuanced pictures of these complex activities break them down
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Some of the largest and most profitable industries in the developed world—entertainment, automobiles, clothing and fashion accessories, health products, children’s toys, grownups’ toys!—depend on perceptions of need that go far beyond the utilitarian and are notoriously difficult to predict. And yet these industries clearly depend on sophisticated and rapidly advancing technologies to compete in the marketplace. Of course, they do not depend only upon technology. Technologies are part of the environment for innovation, or in a popular and very appropriate metaphor—part of the innovation ecology. This complexity of innovation and its ecology is conveyed in Chapter One of a currently popular best-seller in the United States called Innovation Nation by the American innovation guru, Kao (2007), formerly on the faculty of the Harvard Business School: ‘‘I define it [innovation],’’ writes Kao, ‘‘as the ability of individuals, companies, and entire nations to continuously create their desired future. Innovation depends on harvesting knowledge from a range of disciplines besides science and technology, among them design, social science, and the arts. And it is exemplified by more than just products; services, experiences, and processes can be innovative as well. The work of entrepreneurs, scientists, and software geeks alike contributes to innovation. It is also about

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