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FIGURE 3-8 US S&E doctorates, by employment sector, 1973-2001. The majority of people with science and engineering doctorates obtain nonacademic jobs. About equal numbers work in academic and industrial settings, and about 15% work in government or other sectors.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation. Survey of Doctoral Recipients. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 2004.

Although industry-funded R&D has increased steadily overall (Figure 3-9A), that new money has gone overwhelmingly to activities that are near-term and incremental rather than to long-term or discovery-oriented research, and R&D as a share of gross domestic product has declined (Figure 3-9B). Several explanations are offered for industry’s turn away from fundamental research. First, the Bell Laboratories model was supported by funding from a monopoly that now is dismantled and no longer relevant to the organization of science and engineering research in the United States. Second, Wall Street analysts increasingly focus on quarterly financial results and assign little value to long-term (and therefore risky) research investments or to social returns. Third, companies cannot always fully capture a return that justifies long-term research with results that often spill over to other researchers, sometimes including those of competitors. Fourth, private-sector research is more fragmented across national boundaries in the era of globalization. Capital follows opportunity with little attention to geopolitical borders—this may lead more multinational companies to pursue opportunities outside the United States.



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