Samuel I. Doctors

  • The Role of Federal Agencies in Technology Transfer

    Samuel I. Doctors

    The visible effects of government spending for research and development (R&D) – the intercontinental missiles, the space ships, the atomic reactors – can be easily discerned. “But not so easily perceived,” the author states, “are effects on the overall economy such as patterns of innovation, patterns of education, and influence on foreign trade. We are all familiar with the growing use of computers, jet transports, microelectronics, and other areas of new technology initially supported by federal R & D funding. The mechanisms which made possible the transfer of these new areas of technology from the space/defense market to the commercial market, however, are only poorly understood.”

    This book aims at increasing public understanding of these mechanisms of transfer that are of such vital importance to the development of American technology. Doctors provides a concise summary of federal programs that are otherwise described only in scattered array of government and secondary sources, many of them not easily accessible or available to the general reader. The author approaches his material from both the long-range and the close-up points of view. At long range, he surveys the overall processes of federally supported R & D and develops some general insights into the downward diffusion of technology and also its “horizontal transfer” from one institution to another. He then examines the NASA program at close range, presenting detailed evidence and a critical evaluation of its efforts.

    Although little research has been carried out concerning technology transfer – this book is one of the first full-length studies of the subject – and as a result it has not been possible to develop adequate mechanisms for facilitating it, NASA has made a tentative attempt in this direction through its Technology Utilization Program. However, the evidence presented by Doctors strongly argues that the program was not validly established, is not properly structured to meet its goals, and has resulted in an ineffective, wasteful program.

    Doctors concludes that what is needed is a federally sponsored research program to determine the mechanisms of technology transfer. Such an experimental program could provide data for enhancing the effectiveness of present R & D efforts and guides for establishing new technology transfer processes.

    • Hardcover $22.50