A Role for the State in Influencing the Technological Frontier?: Lessons from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Semicondutor Research Corporation
Thursday, November 12, 2015 : 4:30 PM
Grenada (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This talk draws from two different papers insights into opportunities for the State to influence the direction of innovation at the technological frontier. We leverage in-depth archival data, participant observation and oral histories across two contexts: In the first case, we demonstrate how, in the case of DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office, embedded government agents re-architect social networks among researchers so as to identify and influence new technology directions in the U.S. to achieve organizational (here, military) goals. In the second case, we show how one public-private partnership, the Semiconductor Research Corporation’s Nanoelectronics Research Initiative, may be may be helping coordinate scientific and technical communities to achieve long-term technology development needs in the semiconductor industry during a highly-uncertain technological discontinuity where the solution (and underlying science therefore) is unknown. Both cases offer insights into opportunities for external agents — here, the government — to orchestrate the direction of the technological frontier in a vertically disintegrated industry influencing the structure of scientific communities.