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MAKING IT BETTER: EXPANDING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH TO MEET SOCIETY'S NEEDS
advances vs. system integration issues). The last section of the chapter reviews trends in academic IT research, which receives much of the government and industrial support.
A credible discussion of research resources presupposes the existence of data: unfortunately, the present discussion is limited by the nature and quality of available statistics on IT research expenditures, as well as by lags between the time conditions are measured and the time they are reported. Despite extensive efforts by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Bureau of the Census, federal statistics on industrial and federally funded research remain difficult to track over time because some individual firms have been reclassified into different industry sectors and survey methodologies have been revised. Private sources of information, whether corporate reports or statistics from industry associations, typically do not distinguish expenditures on basic research from those on technology development (or applied research). Further complicating matters, neither federal nor private statistics speak to IT as a whole. Rather, they refer to academic disciplines (e.g., computer science and electrical engineering) or industry classifications (e.g., office and computing equipment and computing and data processing services). Some of the categories are being updated, but it is too soon to assess the impact of those changes. As computing and communications technologies converge and IT is infused into a growing number of products and services, assessing the size and needs of IT research will become even more difficult.
Because of the limitations in the available data sets, this chapter does not attempt a definitive assessment. Instead, it presents and analyzes a mosaic of available statistics to elucidate the dominant themes in support for research. In some cases, funding for combined expenditures on research and development (R&D) is used as a proxy for research; in others, the distinctions in federal data between basic and applied research are used to gain some insight, however limited, into the overall investments in these areas.
DIVERSITY IN THE RESEARCH BASE
The payoff of any research, especially fundamental research, is inherently uncertain. Research managers cannot predict which projects will prove successful or produce the greatest benefit to their organizations, industry, or society as a whole. Accordingly, savvy research managers seek to invest in a range of diverse research programs as a strategy for ensuring that at least a fraction of the overall portfolio will pay off—preferably enough to justify the entire investment. The concept of preparing for the unpredictable by investing in diverse activities that pursue a