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AGROBIOTECHNOLOGY IN AUSTRALIA: ISSUES OF CONTROL, COLLABORATION AND SUSTAINABILITY
Richard A. Hindmarsh , David F. Burch & Kees Hulsman
To date, the debate on agrobiotechnological change in Australia has focused largely on the commercial aspects, and more recently the regulatory aspects, of the technology. Policy-makers have relied heavily on overseas trends, as well as proponent scientists and industry, to formulate R&D policy, and privatisation to implement policy. As a result, many social, political and environmental issues have been neglected. To correct this imbalance, and to contribute to a public policy that is sufficiently well-informed to formulate and generate policies in the Australian context, this paper focuses on three issues that have received inadequate attention: ownership and concentration in the agrobiotechnology sector, government and industry collaboration, and ecological impacts and sustainability.
TRADITIONAL AUSTRALIAN INDUSTRY POLICY: WHAT WENT WRONG
Australian manufacturing industry is generally considered to be uncompetitive because of its years of protection from imports. On the other hand, protectionist strategies in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan appear to have yielded much more successful results. The paper investigates the nature of these strategies, distinguishing between their purpose, in terms of the assurance afforded investment, and their economic effect. It is argued that the Asian countries successfully nurtured infant industries, in contrast to Australia, by means of their emphasis on selectivity, industry structure and direction-setting.
CAPTURING REGIONAL BENEFITS FROM SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: THE QUESTION OF REGIONAL APPROPRIABILITY
Fred Jevons & Marc Saupin
The term ‘appropriability’ usually refers to the ability of a business entity to capture benefits from its investment in science and technology. In this paper it is suggested that governments should focus on regional appropriability, the ability of the region they govern to capture benefits from science and technology. Regional appropriability, although in one sense a matter of common knowledge, has not been extensively discussed in the scholarly literature. This paper suggests four factors which may be important in determining whether benefits can be captured by a region. They are, first, local manufacturing; second, intellectual property protection; third, the relatively immobile nature of a broadly skilled workforce; and fourth, “contexted technology”, that is, technology which links into existing industrial strengths.
PRINCIPAL-AGENT PROBLEMS AND STRUCTURAL CHANGE IN THE ADVERTISING INDUSTRY
Peter E. Earl
Over the past decade the advertising business has been going through structural upheavals rather similar to those that have been seen in the financial services industry, with the emergence of both giant multiservice global agencies and specialist boutique suppliers of specialised services. These changes, along with growing centralisation of media ownership, have compounded principal-agent problems that had long complicated the operations of the industry. But they have also brought new means for the advertisers to get round them. The paper explores scope for opportunistic exploitation of information advantages in this industry and the checks and balances that may serve to counter such behaviour.
ROAD TRANSPORT INFORMATICS: CHALLENGING THE FREEDOM OF THE ROADS?
The latest workers to be affected by new computer and communication technologies are those whose workplace is the road — truck drivers, bus and taxi drivers, travelling salespeople, and even police and emergency vehicle drivers. Automatic vehicle identification (AVI) and monitoring (AVM) technologies make it possible to monitor the movements of individual vehicles, potentially threatening the freedom of those using the road, both literally (in road pricing schemes) and figuratively (through surveillance). Before these technologies become widely adopted, it is important that the social implications are debated and understood, and that safeguards to protect privacy and prevent exploitation are designed along with the technology.
YOUNG WORKERS IN HIGH TECHNOLOGY FIRMS: OPPORTUNITIES AND EXPERIENCES
Sue Whyte & Belinda Probert
Australian industries and Australian workers are regularly exhorted to embrace new technologies, while successful high technology firms are held up for emulation. The purpose of this study was to develop an analysis of young workers’ participation in technologically advanced industries. The research addressed the question of what, if anything, is special about employment in technologically advanced industries — and whether employment patterns, training provisions, skills and opportunities differed from other sectors of the labour market.
UNINVITED GUESTS: A THERMODYNAMIC APPROACH TO RESOURCE ALLOCATION
Joseph H. Vogel
A theory of resource allocation is emerging from the science of nonequilibrium thermodynamics (NET). The deterministic and reductionist version of NET (DARNET), like neoclassical economics, is functionally simple; however, unlike neoclassical economics, it invites structural complexities. Some of these complexities are behaviourial (e.g., nonrational behaviour and ethics) and are implied by the human evolutionary paradigm subsumed within DARNET; other complexities are physical (e.g., environmental degradation) and are implied directly from core propositions of DARNET. The case for a paradigm shift to DARNET is presented.
STATE AND COMMONWEALTH CO-OPERATION IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY
This paper addresses the problems of co-ordination and co-operation between the Commonwealth and State Governments in the delivery of science and technology (S&T) policy in Australia. Commonwealth industrial development strategies have attempted to integrate S & T into the economic system, and more recently the States have become involved in industry related S&T programs. A crucial aspect of the linkage of S&T to industrial development is the efficiency and effectiveness of the implementation and delivery of State and Commonwealth programs. An important element of efficiency and effectiveness is the co-ordination of State and Federal efforts in the area. Whilst States are principal actors in industrial projects, major S&T programs are administered federally and have little relationship to regional S&T and industrial activity. There is a case for greater co-operation and co-ordination between the State Government involvement in the allocation of Commonwealth S&T resources.
WHY AUSTRALIA FAILS TO EXPLOIT PUBLICLY FUNDED R&D
Paul V. Martin
One of the challenges facing our scientific, research and commercial communities is how to optimise the economic benefit from the substantial amount of public funds which are invested in R&D. The problem is frequently alluded to, particularly within the guise of a debate about how to achieve better integration between the activities of commerce and academia. Typical policy responses have been to develop bridging mechanisms and structures to link the activities of academia and business. This paper looks at the effectiveness of such initiatives, and discusses why cultural change within the scientific community is necessary before structural and administrative approaches will achieve the improved commercial results from publicly funded research that taxpayers rightfully seek. This paper looks at the underlying issues which need to be considered in the design of more effective strategies and provides some guidelines for the creation of more effective approaches.