by several years of almost level funding. Note that Figure 1.1 is plotted in 1987 dollars; that is, inflation has been factored out. The industry-funded fraction has remained consistently strong, even during the recent recessionary period. It should be emphasized that more than 70 percent of the funded research and development is "development." Applied and basic industrial research expenditures are given in Figure 1.2. The trends are similar to those for overall industrial research and development, and the fraction of the total is 20 to 25 percent for applied research and 4 to 5 percent for basic research. The ratios among the components have remained remarkably constant over two decades. Figure 1.3 exhibits data for industry-funded research and development in universities and nonprofit institutions. University programs are likely to fall into the basic research or applied research categories. The continued growth of total U.S. research and development in difficult times is heartening.

Recent data show that U.S. expenditures in 1992 for research and development were up by 7 percent over 1991 (Business Week, 1993a) and that this strength covered a broad range of industries. Only telecommunications, metals, and fuels posted declines. Foreign expenditures for research grew by 8 percent. Details for a selected list of U.S. producers and users of polymers are given in Table 1.1. The budget figures in Table 1.2 show that funding for polymer research and development is modest (FCCSET, 1992).

Although the broad-brush statistics suggest that U.S. research and development funding is strong, closer analysis provides a darker picture. The National Science Board (NSB) has recently published a major study of U.S. industrial science and technology funding, and its conclusions are much less optimistic than those suggested by the foregoing figures (NSB, 1992). The issues are complex, and the reader is referred to the NSB document. The NSB panel concluded that

  • U.S. industrial research and development is in trouble,

  • Spending is lagging,

  • Expenditures are not well allocated, and

  • Research and development is not utilized effectively.

The committee also finds it difficult to reconcile the positive statistical evidence for research and development support by industry with committee members' direct knowledge of layoffs and large reductions in the research staffs of industrial laboratories in the early 1990s. Virtually all of the top spenders in the polymer research areas (and this includes most of the major industrial research organizations) have offered programs to reduce staff. These programs have been humanely framed as early retirement opportunities, but the result is fewer researchers. At the other end of the scale, hiring is being curtailed by industry, academia, and government. New Ph.D.s are having a difficult time finding employment. These facts seem inconsistent with reported increases in research and development budgets. Although the results of statistical surveys can lag



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement