Research Comparisons

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Science  27 Oct 1967:
Vol. 158, Issue 3800, pp. 463-468
DOI: 10.1126/science.158.3800.463


In concluding, I will make some personal value judgments explicit. No value judgments need enter into a comparison of inputs, nor need they intrude into comparisons of technological progress and economic growth, except in the choice of these themes for investigation, but value judgments are inevitably involved in the consideration of policy measures which may flow from such comparisons. Insofar as it represents a conscious political decision, the scale of R & D activity and support for science in any particular country reflects a variety of policy goals, only some of which are economic. Moreover, the balance of "home" R & D and "imported" science and technology must also partly reflect political and cultural, as well as more narrowly conceived economic and technological, goals. My personal preference is for a more research-oriented society, both in Britian and in Europe, but for very different policy goals than those pursued in the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. I regard the proposals being canvassed in Britain for drastically cutting back the rate of growth of fundamental and applied research as short-sighted both culturally and economically, and I believe that the real possibilities of acquiring and using American know-how will depend increasingly on strengthening Europe's own R & D capacity. But wherever the balance may lie, all countries benefit to a very considerable extent from scientific and technological exchanges. Autarchy is inefficient, both for the world economy and for world science and technology.