Prometheus: Vol 18, No 4 (2000)

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Catalyzing Research Competitiveness: The Georgia Research Alliance
W. Henry Lambright
Pages: 357-372


Virtually everywhere, there is governmental interest in developing and using science and technology as a tool for economic development and other public purposes. States within the United States look to advance vis-à-vis other states, just as nations seek to rise in competitiveness. What institutional mechanisms work? What research and other strategies are effective? The Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) represents an important model that appears successful. During the 1990s, key business executives, university presidents, and state government forged a research partnership – GRA. A non-profit entity, GRA played a catalytic role in getting state government, industry, and universities in a specific region to work in concert to hire scientific luminaries, attract federal research funds, and translate research into economic development. The dynamics of this catalytic entity are discussed using a life-cycle model of organizational development.

Priority Setting and Resource Allocation in Australian Biomedical Research: Muddling with Some Skill
Kay Harman
Pages: 373-390


Examined here are models of resource allocation adopted by Australia’s premier biomedical research funding council, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), since pressure to make research more ‘relevant’ has been exerted. For a council that disburses its funds chiefly to high-impact fundamental research, allocating resources to priority-driven research that contributes directly to population health and evidence-based health care is a challenging transition. It is contended that while the NHMRC has attempted to accommodate a ‘rationalist’ user-driven approach to resource allocation, it has moved only marginally away from a highly decentralised (investigator-driven) model to a mixed-mode system that resembles ‘muddling with some skill’.

Online Gambling: Challenges to National Sovereignty and Regulation
Jan Mcmillen
Pages: 391-401


Online gambling utilises advanced telecommunications technology to provide access to gambling across national borders, presenting unprecedented opportunities for industry and new challenges for government regulation and national sovereignty. It also promises to revolutionise the way people gamble, raising critical issues about social and economic impacts. Nations have taken a variety of approaches to online gambling, ranging from unregulated legalisation to prohibition, creating a perplexing and uncertain legal environment. This paper will examine the development of Internet and interactive gambling, the responses by governments and industry, and the issues for policy-makers and regulators.

New Products of the 1980s and 1990s: The Diffusion of Household Technology in the Decade 1985-1995
D. S. Ironmonger , C. W. Lloyd-Smith & F. Soupourmas
Pages: 403-415


The management of our households and the way we spend our leisure time has been greatly influenced by the introduction of various household technologies in the 1980s and 1990s. This paper compares the extent and rate of adoption of selected household products in Australian households. The diffusion of colour television sets, video cassette recorders, compact disc players, microwave ovens and personal computers into various types of households during the 1980s and 1990s was examined. This study found that different types of Australian households adopted new technology at different rates. The levels of ownership of various household technologies were highest for households with children. In general, one-adult households were slower to adopt new household technology when compared to other types of households. This paper speculates as to why one-person households are slower to purchase the latest in cooking and entertainment technology.

Classification of Industries by Level of Technology: An Appraisal and some Implications
Peter Carroll , Eduardo Pol & Paul L. Robertson
Pages: 417-436


Modern growth theory acknowledges that a country’s economic prosperity depends in large part on its capacity for technological innovation. Empirical evidence, however, supports the view that not all sectors are equally innovative. As a result, it seems desirable from a public policy perspective to identify and promote sectors displaying both a high innovation rate and, in an increasingly competitive international economy, a high degree of international competitiveness. It is frequently argued that the high-tech industry sectors, in contrast to low-tech sectors, satisfy both conditions, with the clear implication that public policy should be directed to enhancing the performance of high-tech sectors. This approach raises at least two important issues. The first is whether such classifications can be meaningfully constructed given both the intractability of the concepts involved and the difficulties in data collection. A second issue is the basic assumption that policy emphasis should be placed on technology-intensive industries because they have a greater impact on growth. In this paper, we argue that while it may be possible to construct indices of technological intensity that are useful for some purposes, the ones that are currently proposed do not, in fact, address questions of economic growth and firm performance very well. In part, this is a reflection of the technicalities involved in formulating and operationalising the indices, but it also reflects problems in the underlying premise, namely technology-intensive sectors are more growth-inducing than low-tech sectors. We call, therefore, for the adoption of a more sophisticated and detailed approach that would provide a sensible classification of industries and new policy insights.

Emerging Bioinformatic Networks: Contesting the Public Meaning of Private and the Private Meaning of Public
Nik Brown & Brian Rappert
Pages: 437-452


This paper explores the complexity of public/private identities in the emerging global economies of gene sequence mapping and analysis. In so doing we seek to offer a less over-determined acccount of what it means to describe institutional actors as either ‘public’ or ‘private’. Instead, these ‘codes’ can be seen to offer actors a means of mutual positioning that, more usually conceals broader interdependencies within the world’s bioinformatics networks.

The Spectrum of ( Explacit ) Knowledges in Firms and Nations
Peter Clark , Chris Carter & Isabelle Szmigin
Pages: 453-460

Book reviews
Pages: 461-476

Contributors to this Issue
Page: 477