Defining the Information Technology Research and Development Ecosystem

In this study, the term ecosystem is used in the sense first introduced by James F. Moore when he applied biological concepts to the world of business.1 The concept of a national innovation ecosystem was further developed and refined by such scholars as Michael Porter and Scott Stern2 and, more recently, Egils Milbergs.3 The information technology (IT) research and development (R&D) ecosystem comprises IT researchers and scientists (and their institutions), IT businesses (both large and small), IT customers (consumers, businesses, governments), and powerful contextual forces such as regulatory and legal environments, the supply of financial and human and intellectual capital, the economic infrastructure, and the pressure of international competition, in the production of IT-based goods and services that create economic wealth, jobs, and societal benefits. See Chapter 1 in this report for further discussion of the U.S. IT R&D ecosystem, its elements, and interactions among them.


1James F. Moore, “Predators and Prey: A New Ecology of Competition,” Harvard Business Review 71(3):75-86, May/June 1993.


2Michael Porter and Scott Stern, The New Challenge to America’s Prosperity: Findings from the Innovation Index, Council on Competitiveness, Washington, D.C., 1999.


3Egils Milbergs, Innovation Vital Signs—Framework Report, Center for Accelerating Innovation, Washington, D.C., 2007.

and user of IT. Globalization is a broad and sweeping phenomenon that cannot be easily stemmed, let alone contained. If embraced rather than resisted, it presents more opportunities than threats to the U.S. national IT R&D ecosystem. The Committee on Assessing the Impacts of Changes in the Information Technology Research and Development Ecosystem was established under the auspices of the National Research Council’s Computer Science and Telecommunications Board to examine these issues and make recommendations to strengthen the U.S. IT R&D ecosystem.

The period from 1995 to 2007 was marked by rapid and significant change in the U.S. and world economies. From the perspective of information technology, the United States enjoyed a strong industrial base, an ability to create and leverage ever new technological advances, and an extraordinary system for creating world-class technology companies—all of which have been the envy of the world. Yet over this period, the IT industry became more globalized, especially with the dramatic rise of the economies of India and China, fueled in no small part by their development of vibrant information technology industries. Ireland, Israel, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and some Scandinavian countries have also developed

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement