R&D is an expression that has come to be widely used, with varying degrees of appropriateness, by people in all walks of life: journalists, politicians, businessmen, economists, scientists, as well as by the man in the street. Research and development (R&D) consists of the theoretical and experimental work that is undertaken by scientists and technicians, in order to increase the stock of knowledge about nature and society and use it to devise new applications. Why has R&D recently become a fashionable topic? The reason is probably that people want to understand, or at least have some clues about, the profound changes we experience in our daily life which are connected with the application of science to the most diverse fields: from health to transportation, from telecommunications to food production, from the management of natural resources to sophisticated "star wars" armaments. In particular, it has been convincingly demonstrated that R&D is one of the main triggers of economic growth, and this holds good both for countries and individual firms. The need to comprehend the mechanisms that govern the production, diffusion and utilization of scientific and technological knowledge, and its inherent complexity, tends to oversimplify and to concentrate all attention on R&D. So, R&D as the origin of the inventive and innovative capacity of a country, an industrial sector, a firm, in other words a symbol which stands for the whole world of innovation and modernization. This book defines with scientific rigour what R&D is about and illustrates how it is linked to other innovative activities which contribute, each for its part, to face the most compelling human needs such as health, food, environment, energy, social and economic development. The issue is not only a question of terms and definitions: knowledge is a very complex system and it is necessary to understand and manage its diverse components in a unitary manner.The major themes of the book are the following: the definition of R&D and of other scientific and technological activities, human and financial resources devoted to R&D, results and impact of R&D, the relationship between R&D and technological innovation, the role of governments in steering and supporting R&D and innovation. The issues are dealt with in the book from two standpoints: the international perspective, which provides the reader with general concepts and theories and which illustrates comparisons between different countries. The approach is basically social, economic and political. The reader who is interested in the development of specific disciplines and scientific areas such as astrophysics, molecular biology, microelectronics, organization science, is referred to other studies. This book has been written for those who are interested in understanding how R&D is linked to society's pursuit of wealth; this understanding is essential for every citizen who wants to be a citizen, and not a subject, in the society which is progressively based on knowledge.
Table of Contents Introduction 1. R&D: concepts and measurement Knowledge and R&D The definition of R&D and of other S&T activities The measurement of R&D: the Frascati Manual Potentiality and limits of the measurement of R&D 2. R&D in Italy looked from an international perspective R&D: a concentrated phenomenon Are the US loosing their supremacy in S&T? R&D in Italy The actors of R&D in Italy (research agencies, university, firms) 3. Human resources for S&T Human resources for S&T Researchers The researcher: a profession in search of identity The researcher's social dimension Scientists or engineers? The ageing of researchers The participation of women to S&T The mobility of researchers The brain drain The interest of young people for science 4. The results of R&D What does R&D" produce"? Scientific publications Patents R&D evaluation 5. R&D and technological innovation The relationship between R&D and innovation What technological innovation is about Technological innovation in industry Intangible investment The internationalisation of R&D R&D collaboration between firms The shortening of time horizon and the increasing costs of R&D Technological innovation and long cycles 6. Research policy Why do governments intervene in S&T? Public financing of R&D Research policy in Italy The Barcelona objective: natura non facit saltus 7. Conclusions 8. References
Giorgio Sirilli is Research Director at Cnr (National Research Council) and teaches Economics of Technological Progress at Luiss and Tor Vergata University in Rome.