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OCR for page 81
82 APPENDIX G Impediments to Innovation in Highway Transportation Principal Impediments to Innovations in Highway Transportation Excerpted from TRB Special Report 256: Managing Technology Transfer--A Strategy for the Federal Highway Administration (1999) Principal Impediments to Innovations in Highway Transportation Impediment Category Type Description Technical Testing and demonstration New technologies need to be tested and demonstrated thoroughly before public agencies will accept them in competition with other, well-established technologies. Standards Standards-setting groups that offer a safeguard against unexpected failure are often slow and deliberate and can delay implementation of innovative solutions. Testing to failure Long-term testing is difficult and expensive and can preclude innovative solu- tions that are large and/or expensive. Procurement Disclosure rules Public-sector disclosure rules can prevent the use (and advantages) of a propri- etary design or process. Low-bid contracts Such contract awards do not account for future operating and maintenance costs and can result in higher total costs. Life-cycle costs Making awards based on life-cycle costs is difficult; adequate information on such costs may not be available. Specifications Public agencies rely on design or method specifications. This can discourage innovative techniques and products that could be considered if performance specifications were used. Legal Designbuild limitations Requiring that separate firms provide design and construction dampens the potential for innovation. Product liability and The potential for product liability tort claims, high insurance costs, and insurance costs prospects for litigation discourage both the development and application of new techniques and products. Community participation Technical choices are open to such intense public scrutiny that officials avoid controversy by relying on engineering design standards that simply repeat pre- vious practice. Permit process Federal, state, and local permit processes are needed to protect public health and safety, but can preempt consideration of innovative solutions. Public Sector and Resistance to change The natural tendency to resist change and the conservative nature of public- Institutional sector organizations institutionalize this resistance. Lack of institutional Highway agency engineers have little incentive to examine new or innovative incentives technologies to solve familiar problems. Limited agency capabilities Highway agencies with limited technical capabilities may be unable to main- tain complex new technology. Interest group resistance Many organizations and interest groups committed to preserving the status quo act as a check on innovation. Effect of political Political patronage can dilute agency technical competence, further reducing patronage the incentive for innovation. (continued )

OCR for page 81
83 (continued ) Principal Impediments to Innovations in Highway Transportation Impediment Category Type Description Public Sector and Employment practices and Employment practices and compensation can restrict the ability of public agen- Institutional work rules cies to hire personnel needed to implement and maintain new technologies. Technology mismatch There are possible mismatches between technologies employed today and those needed to meet future demand, as well as possible mismatches between existing and future job skill. General Limited resources Resources for R&D in the public sector are limited; the size and complexity of the market limit interest in infrastructure problems. Factors that Impede Implementation of Research Findings Excerpted from NCHRP Report 382: Facilitating the Implementation of Research Findings: A Summary Report (1996) Factors Pertaining to the Characteristics of Research Results Allocation of patents, etc., unsettled Research output does not fit work procedures Research output not sufficiently tested Mismatch between research and user needs Factors Pertaining to the Organizational Context Internal organizational context Inadequate travel budget No local precedents Political involvement of managers Skill obsolescence Discomfort with change Inadequate resources Inflexible contract specifications Legal liability Organizational inertia Risk aversion External organizational context Hi-tech government support bias Dispersed funding authority Privatepublic tensions No local precedent Contractor investment risk Research-user culture gaps Unclear national objectives Factors Pertaining to the Implementation Process Researchers not market-oriented Unknown information source Costliness One-way dissemination Poor quality/relevance filters User successes unpublicized