One of the strategies adopted by the United States in response to its loss in competitiveness (at least in some sectors) was to encourage greater cooperation among industry and between industry and government. Such collaboration was by no means novel in the U.S. economy. Government funds had supported the demonstration and development of the telegraph in the last century, and after World War I, the federal government fostered an independent radio industry.4 As noted in the preface, the federal government also provided active support through a variety of mechanisms for military and civil aviation and the electronics industry.5 Yet the 1980s and early 1990s saw a conscious effort to expand cooperation, in part by using federal R&D funding more effectively, to meet what were seen as unprecedented competitive challenges.

A series of public and private initiatives in the 1980s demonstrate the renewed emphasis on cooperation. The change in public policy is illustrated by the number of major legislative initiatives passed by the Congress. These included: the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act (1980), the Bayh-Dole University and Small Business Patent Act (1980), the Small Business Innovation Development Act (1982), the Federal Technology Transfer Act (1986), the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act (1988), the National Competitiveness Technology Transfer Act (1989), and the Defense Conversion, Reinvestment, and Transition Assistance Act (1992). These individual acts are summarized in the box on the following page.


nese Miracle: The Growth of Industrial Policy 1925–1975. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 1982. D.T. Okimoto, "The Japanese Challenge in High-Technology Industry," in R. Landau and N. Rosenberg, eds., The Positive Sum Strategy. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1986, and, by the same author, MITI and the Market: Japanese Industrial Policy for High-Technology Industry. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 1989.


Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy during the Wilson administration, appeared to feel that monopoly was inherent to the wireless industry, and if that were the case, he believed the monopoly should be American rather than British. Britain had dominated prewar Atlantic wireless traffic as well as the undersea telegraph cable. With Navy sponsorship and participation, the patents of General Electric, AT&T, Westinghouse, and the Navy were pooled in order to create the Radio Corporation of America. See Irwin Lebow, Information Highways and Byways: op. cit., pp. 97–98 and chapter 12.


David C. Mowery and Nathan Rosenberg, Technology and the Pursuit of Economic Growth. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge England, 1989. See chapter seven especially pp. 181–194. The authors note that the commercial aircraft industry is unique among manufacturing industries in that a federal research organization, the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (founded in 1915 and absorbed by NASA in 1958) conducted and funded research on airframe and propulsion technologies. Before World War II, NACA operated primarily as a test center for civilian and military users. NACA made a series of remarkable contributions with regard to engine nacelle locations and the NACA "cowl" for radial air cooled engines. These innovations, together with improvements in engine fillets based on discoveries at Caltech and the development of monocoque construction, had a revolutionary effect on commercial and military aviation. These inventions made the long-range bomber possible, forced the development of high-speed fighter aircraft, and vastly increased the appeal of commercial aviation. Ibid. and personal communication with Albert Flax, National Academy of Engineering.

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