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Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research (2014)

Chapter: 1 Globalization of Science and Technology

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Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
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1

Globalization of Science and Technology

“There is no national science just as there is no national multiplication table.”1 Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

While globalization of science is by no means a new phenomenon, the 21st century science and technology (S&T) enterprise is more geographically distributed, more interconnected, and more dynamic than ever before. Advances in science and technology fueled the pace of globalization throughout the 20th century; now globalization is accelerating the pace of advances in S&T. Longstanding research investment strategies are giving way to more collaborative models as institutions of all kinds seek to leverage a globally distributed talent base. The physical borders that define national sovereignty pose minimal barriers to the flow of information and ideas and do little to impede the coalescence of global networks among researchers or the expansion of global technical innovation by industry. The 20th century birth of the Internet spawned what Yale researchers termed “a speeded-up virtuous cycle” in which “the internet and electronic publication revolution have proved a boon—expanding the areas of research and accelerating the pace of knowledge exchange.”2

A recent report published by the European Commission observed that “[o]ver the past few decades the international landscape has changed in ways that seem both dramatic and contradictory. New players have emerged, notably emerging economies such as China, Brazil, India, and South Africa. Smaller economies like Vietnam are to a greater degree imitating the Chinese strategy of placing science, technology and innovation (STI) at the centre of the economic development strategies, and raw materials based economies like Australia are increasingly STI-driven. Although Europe, Japan and North America still dominate aggregate STI investment globally, their shares are declining, and the international landscape is increasingly multi-polar.”3

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1Note-Book of Anton Chekhov. NY: B.W. Huebsch, Inc. 1921, p. 18.

2“Globalization and Science: A Speeded-Up Virtuous Cycle,” Ramamurti Shankar. YaleGlobal, March 28, 2003.

3“International Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation: Strategies for a Changing World.” Report of the Expert Group established to support the further devel-

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
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This reality, corroborated by statistical indicators, has broad implications for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) as well as the U.S. government more broadly. This chapter describes the changing global science and technology enterprise, discusses a range of mechanisms for assessing and engaging that enterprise, and highlights key implications for the DoD.

1.1 Painting the S&T Landscape

Organizations whose missions depend on utilization of cutting-edge S&T must maintain awareness not only of the global S&T landscape as it exists today but also of the drivers that are reshaping that landscape. Statistical indicators, e.g. a nation’s R&D spending, provides a snapshot of the landscape but are not necessarily useful in forecasting how the landscape will change over time. Trend analysis is more helpful in this regard but is of minimal value in anticipating nonlinearities induced by important drivers of S&T globalization.

The National Commission for the Review of the Research and Development Programs of the United States Intelligence Community observed that “[f]oreign: “Foreign governments are developing policies to foster technological innovation as a key mechanism for stimulating sustainable economic growth and enhancing security—the fruits of which will present both challenges to and opportunities for U.S. interests. The globalization of R&D [research and development] capabilities is becoming an increasingly important component of the business strategies of multinational corporations, not only because they wish to boost competitiveness by enhancing local customization, gaining access to new markets, and placing technical staff close to manufacturing and design centers, but also because the accelerating pace of S&T-based innovation and its potential for high-margin products drive successful firms to seek out the best S&T talent, regardless of where it resides.”4

The European Commission has identified a number of factors that drive the globalization of science, including:

 

  • “The globalisation of the world economy drives firms to increasingly access scientific sources outside their local boundaries.
  • Students and researchers are increasingly mobile. As a consequence, scientific institutions and firms are ever more competing for talent in a global labour market.
  • The ICT [information and communications technology] and the Internet revolution have reduced the cost of international communication and boosted international exchange in science. These trends are am-

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opment of an EU international STI cooperation strategy. ISBN 978-92-79-26411-5. Copyright European Union 2012, p. 9.

4Report of the National Commission for the Review of the Research and Development Programs of the United States Intelligence Community; Unclassified Version. 2013, p. 7 .

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
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  • plified by the growth in transport systems and reductions in real transport costs of the last few decades.

  • ICT and internet have also fostered new ways of gathering knowledge, leading to innovative international knowledge transfer models in the fields of fundamental research.
  • The research agenda is increasingly being made up of issues that have a global dimension, such as climate change, energy, safety, pandemics.
  • Policy makers are increasingly focusing attention on international S&T cooperation and funding programmes to stimulate internationalisation of higher education and research. This includes many governments from emerging economies, who have come to view Science and Technology (S&T) as integral to economic growth and development. To that end, they have taken steps to develop their S&T infrastructures and expand their higher education systems. This has brought a great expansion of the world’s S&T activities and a shift toward developing Asia, where most of the rapid growth has occurred.
  • Costs of and access to infrastructure lead to stronger incentives to cooperate and share resources across boundaries.
  • Increased specialisation of knowledge production globally makes excellence being located more diversely and makes it vital to seek advanced knowledge where it is.
  • Scientific knowledge is produced with greater “speed” and impact, creating incentives to avoid duplication.”5

Although the effects of these drivers can be observed in statistical trends, it is difficult to directly correlate cause and effect; it is even more difficult to project how these and other drivers will reshape the global landscape over the coming decades. The charts that follow provide a sampling of leading and lagging indicators that describe the global S&T landscape from differing perspectives.

The Science and Engineering (S&E) Indicators report published biennially by the National Science Board (NSB) draws from U.S. and international data to provides a snapshot of the scope, quality, and vitality of the science and engineering enterprise. Global R&D expenditures are an important leading indicator of a nation’s commitment to technology-based innovation. While overall R&D execution continues to be concentrated in three regions of the world (Figure 1-1a), relative shares are shifting due to substantial growth in Asia. In fact, while aggregate R&D spending grew at an estimated 6.7 percent over the 10-year period between 2001 and 2011, China was the largest single contributor to the

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5“International Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation: Strategies for a Changing World.” Report of the Expert Group established to support the further development of an EU international STI cooperation strategy. ISBN 978-92-79-26411-5. Copyright European Union 2012, pp. 21-22.

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
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FIGURE 1-1 NSF Science and Engineering Indicators showing (a) 1996–2011 regional shares of worldwide R&D expenditures, (b) 2001–2011 contributions of selected countries/regions/economies to growth of worldwide R&D expenditures, and (c) 2001–2011 average annual growth in R&D expenditures of selected countries/economies. SOURCE: National Science Board. Science & Engineering Indicators 2014 Digest. Retrieved online on April 4, 2014 from http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind14/index.cfm/digest/.

Growth in R&D expenditures, with Asia collectively contributing 45 percent to overall growth (Figure 1-1b). 6 While the United States, European Union, and Japan continue to dominate in aggregate annual R&D expenditures, China

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6Science and Engineering Indicators 2014. National Science Board. 2014. Arlington VA: National Science Foundation (NSB 14-01), pp. 4-17.

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
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has shown tremendous growth in R&D investment between 2001 and 2011—almost two times that of South Korea and nearly five times that of the United States (Figure 1-1c).

While aggregate R&D spending is a useful indicator of a country’s commitment to innovation, it is only one of many parameters needed to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of a nation’s S&T enterprise. Equally important, for example, are measures that derive from a nation’s ability to effectively execute their research investment, for example by measuring workforce capacity. Figure 1-2a provides one measure of S&E workforce capacity by examining the growth in S&E first university degree awards (i.e., completion of a terminal undergraduate degree program) between 2000 and 2010 for selected countries. During this time period, the aggregate number of S&E first university degrees awarded in China grew by an estimated 259 percent with the largest growth in the number of degrees awarded in physical and biological sciences (approximately 447 percent) and engineering (approximately 282 percent). During this same period, aggregate S&E degrees awarded in the U.S. grew by 32 percent, with the largest growth in social and behavioral sciences (approximately 39 percent) followed by physical and biological sciences (approximately 35 percent) and engineering (approximately 25 percent).7

A related measure of a nation’s R&D capacity (and potentially an indication of a nation’s R&D investment strategy), is the growth and scientific domain-concentration of S&E doctoral degrees awarded. Figure 1-2b shows the ratio of doctoral degrees awarded in 2010 by field of study for selected countries. More than half of the 2010 S&E doctoral degrees awarded in China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan were in engineering (compared with the United States and United Kingdom, where only about one quarter of the doctoral degrees were in engineering.8 On the other hand, the United States and many European countries produce larger percentages of doctorates in physical and biological sciences; disciplines that often provide foundational knowledge and discoveries that lead to technological advances

Research universities are essential to a vibrant national R&D enterprise. Figure 1-3 examines data compiled from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-2014, which used 13 indicators across four core missions: teaching, research, knowledge transfer, and international outlook to generate the rankings.9 While North America and Europe still dominate most higher education rankings (Figure 1-3a), other regions are breaking into the Top 100, particularly in engineering and technology (Figure 1-3b). For example, 16 countries are represented in the overall Top 100 rankings list, whereas 24 countries have one or more universities ranked among the Top 100 in engineering and

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7Ibid. Appendix table 2-37.

8Ibid. Appendix tables 2-41 and 2-42. Note: Data not available for degrees awarded in mathematical or computer sciences in Russia, China, and Japan.

9Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Retrieved online March 27, 2014 from http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2013-2014/.

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
×

technology. While the United States dominates both lists, its share is smaller and the geographic distribution is greater for top-ranked universities in engineering & technology. While many have not yet broken into the overall Top 100 rankings, the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) and other emerging economies are intent on strengthening their higher education institutions. Within this cohort, Asia dominates the Top 100, but the geographic distribution spans the globe (Figure 1-3c).

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FIGURE 1-2 National Science Board Science and Engineering Indicator data that examines (a) S&E first university degrees for selected countries between 2000 and 2010 and (b) S&E doctoral degrees by field of study for selected countries in 2010. SOURCE: Data compiled from National Science Board. 2014. Science and Engineering Indicators 2014. Appendix Tables 2-37, 2-41, and 2-42 (data not available for degrees awarded in mathematical/computer sciences in Russia, China, and Japan).

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
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Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
×

In “The rise of research networks,” Jonathan Adams argues that “New collaboration patterns are changing the global balance of science. Established superpowers need to keep up or be left behind.” He acknowledges that “the established science superpowers of the United States and Europe have dominated the research world since 1945” but asserts “this Atlantic axis is unlikely to be the main focus of research by 2045, or perhaps even by 2020.”10 Cross-border collaborations are occurring at all levels, from the fluid peer-to-peer networks among individual researchers to more structured institutional relationships to multi-national agreements to jointly invest in pursuit of a shared goal. The outputs from such collaborations are often equally borderless—confounding efforts to attribute scientific leadership to a specific nation, institution, or individual.

Scientific collaboration is growing at multiple levels across every field, as evidenced by lagging indicators such as coauthorship of publications. According to the S&E Indicators 2014, “collaboration on S&E research publications over the last 15 years has been increasing, with higher shares of scientific articles with more than one named author and a higher proportion of articles with institutional and international coauthorships. The largest increase was in international collaboration; the percentage of articles with authors from different countries rose from 16 percent to 25 percent between 1997 and 2012.”11 While international collaboration expanded in every field between 1997 and 2012, it grew unevenly. Astronomy leads in international collaboration; in 2012 approximately 56 percent of its articles were internationally coauthored. Other fields with relatively high rates (27 percent to 34 percent) of international collaboration include geosciences, computer sciences, mathematics, physics, and biological sciences (the rate of international collaboration was lower for agricultural sciences, medical sciences, engineering, psychology, chemistry, social sciences, and other life sciences, which was the lowest at only 17 percent).12

International collaboration rates also vary by country. Figure 1-4 shows the percentage of S&E articles with international co-authorship for nations that have universities in the Times Higher Education overall Top 100 rankings (see Figure 1-3b).13 From an aggregate perspective, approximately 25 percent of the S&E articles published in 2012 had international co-authorship; every nation with top-ranked universities exceeded that ratio. While U.S. researchers collaborate at a lower rate than researchers in Europe, Singapore, Canada, and Australia, 36 perecent of US S&E articles are internationally coauthored. In 2012, collaboration with China accounted for 16.2 percent of U.S. internationally coauthored articles, an expansion from only 5.1 percent in 2002. Other major

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10The rise of research networks. Jonathan Adams. Nature Volume 490. October 2012.

11Science and Engineering Indicators 2014. National Science Board. 2014. Arlington VA: National Science Foundation (NSB 14-01), pp. 5-40-41.

12Ibid.

13Ibid. Appendix Table 5-41. Note: Countries with less than 1percent of internationally coauthored articles in 2012 are omitted, so Hong Kong is not included in the chart.

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
×

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FIGURE 1-4 Percentage of S&E articles with international co-authorship in 2012 for countries with overall top 100-ranked universities. SOURCE: Data compiled from Appendix Table 5-41 of National Science Board Science and Engineering Indicators 2014. Arlington VA: National Science Foundation (NSB 14-01).

collaborators in 2012 included the United Kingdom (14.3 percent), Germany (13.3 percent), and Canada (11.4 percent).14Figure1-5 shows the percentage share of U.S. international S&E articles in 2012 for countries with universities in the Times Higher Education Engineering and Technology Top 100 rankings (see Figure 1-3b).

As the fruits of basic research mature into applications, a competitive dynamic often emerges as nations, institutions, and individuals seek to be recognized as “the best.” The global S&T landscape morphs as national and regional leadership positions shift. This dynamic is well documented by the TOP500 Project which benchmarks supercomputer performance (speed) around the world and maintains statistics dating back to 1993. While the United States held the lead for many years, the top-ranking site has shifted across national borders four times between June 2010 and June 2013 (Figure 1-6). In many other technology areas, which lack quantitative benchmarks against which performance can be measured, it is far more difficult to identify who is the best at a given point in time.

A variety of other leading and lagging indicators appear in the biennial publication of the Science and Engineering Indicators. The collective array, even when supplemented by analyses produced by other sources, provides an inadequate picture of the global S&T landscape. Institutions and governments around the world are struggling to better understand—and more efficiently lev-

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14Ibid. Appendix Table 5-56.

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
×

erage—the global S&T enterprise. A recent Thomson Reuters report observed that “[t]he global research landscape of the past decade has become so dynamic as to be described in terms of tectonic movements, most importantly for that of China. Continents—and countries—once distant from one another both physically and metaphorically are now appearing side-by-side and still new landforms are emerging. In another decade, the geography of science is sure to be very different from that of today.”15

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FIGURE 1-5 Percentage share of U.S. international S&E articles in 2012 for countries with top 100-ranked universities in engineering and technology. SOURCE: Data compiled from Appendix Table 5-56 of National Science Board Science and Engineering Indicators 2014. Arlington VA: National Science Foundation (NSB 14-01).

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FIGURE 1-6 Top-ranked supercomputer sites; each time point shows the site location (country) of the world’s number one performing computer system. SOURCE: Data compiled from “Top500 Lists.” Retrieved March 27, 2014 from www.top500.org/lists/.

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15The Research & Innovation Performance of the G20. September 2013. Copyright 2013 Thomson Reuters, p. 5.

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
×

1.2. Global S&T Engagement

According to a recent National Research Council study, “the increased access to information has transformed the 1950s paradigm of ‘control and isolation’ of information for innovation control into the current one of ‘engagement and partnerships’ between innovators for innovation creation. Current and future strategies for S&T development need to be considered in light of these new realities.”16 Such a world, in which science and technology capabilities are spreading steadily, provides both opportunities and challenges for global S&T engagement.

Global health research, for example, holds more promise of reducing disease burdens in an era when many countries can contribute and the historically dominant efforts of the U.S. National Institutes of Health are joined by the contributions of many strong partners. The demand for more productive agriculture, particularly in developing countries, as land available for crops shrinks and environmental stresses increase, likewise becomes an opportunity for global cooperation and progress. At the same time and through the same developments, however, competition can become more acute. Pharmaceutical firms and exporters of agricultural products may not find their more populated commercial landscapes to be easy places in which to survive or thrive. Disruptive technologies can shift the economic balance rapidly; as S&T capability grows around the world, it becomes harder to predict where and when a commercially disruptive technology is most likely to be developed.

In such a landscape, all S&T-based organizations benefit from wider global engagement. Where the organization’s mission is providing a global public good—such as improved health, cleaner energy, or a more secure food supply—cooperation across borders builds the common knowledge base and brings more human resources to bear on the issue. Further, a partner country that deploys its own scientists and engineers to tackle global challenges is more likely to benefit at the national and local level downstream as solutions are implemented. The eradication of smallpox, for example, while led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, could never have been successful without significant local capabilities in all the countries where the remnants of the disease existed. Geography is also an important consideration in global S&T engagement as one country cannot do all global oceanography research, all Arctic research, or all disease vector research. Competing organizations also have a need to reach out globally in order to have full access to growing external knowledge in their technology areas and to maintain sufficient in-house skills and understanding to either introduce new technologies, catch up, or very quickly adjust if critical technologies are developed or introduced elsewhere first. So, for example, U.S. firms that want to compete in the world market for clean energy technologies cannot build their capacity to compete by being isolated. Rather, they need to be an active member

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16S&T Strategies of Six Countries: Implications for the United States. National Research Council. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2010, p. 1.

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
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of the international S&T community, sharing and learning from the relevant research communities, tracking what other firms are doing, and getting to know the needs and constraints of their potential markets.

A recent report by the European Commission delineated a scale of coordination: from Competition (overlapping programs in competition with no coordination) to Co-ordination (information exchange on distributed programs) to Cooperation (distributed but linked programs, shared access, strategic divergence and specialization) to Collaboration (pooled programs with merged management) to Integration (joint strategic approach, program with full coordination). The report also argued the “need to strive for moving upwards on this scale to achieve a more collaborative and integrated strategy for international cooperation.”17

Mechanisms for awareness and engagement in science- and technology-intensive areas also form a continuum from more passive to more active (Table 1-1 illustrates this range). For example, data analytics and bibliometric analyses require little to no in-person engagement. While these mechanisms can generate overviews of research fields and indicate outstanding research, the indicators being measured, such as publications and patents, often lag behind the cutting edge of research. In the case of other information, such as conference participation, unreviewed online reports, etc., the quantity of available data to mine is voluminous. Nevertheless, these mechanisms are increasingly important and enabling given the sheer volume and variety of available information and the need to effectively allocate scarce human resources by targeting their analytic efforts.

The use of statistical analyses of patents and publications as a means to better understand what is happening globally is not new. The NSB Science and Engineering Indicators previously discussed are a rich source of such measures. The Royal Society has also made use of bibliometrics to analyze how collaborative networks were changing regionally and globally.18 A recent report by Thomson Reuters also used bibliometric data to analyze the scholarly output and innovation capacity of the G2019 in an effort to provide insight on questions including: “…which regions are leading and in what areas? Which countries are falling behind? Where are there emerging pockets or growth? What is in decline? What technology areas dominate?” While useful, such measures are still lagging indicators and rely on robust access to large data assets.

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17International Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation: Strategies for a Changing World. Report of the Expert Group established to support the further development of an EU international STI cooperation strategy. ISBN 978-92-79-26411-5. Copyright European Union, 2012.

18Knowledge, Networks and Nations: Global scientific collaboration in the 21st century. ISBN 978-0-85403-890-9. Copyright The Royal Society, 2011.

19The Research & Innovation Performance of the G20. Thomson Reuters. September 2013, p. 3. [Note: The G20 includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, European Union, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, and United States of America.]

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
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TABLE 1-1 Mechanisms for S&T Awareness and Engagement

Mechanism Description Objective Measure of Success Challenges Strengths


Passive

images/nec-2-1.png
Data analytics and Horizon Scanning Watching the literature; analyzing trends Generate overview; map the average to recognize the outstanding New insights generated. Has this information changed what we did in the last year? How and how often? Open literature lags behind the research process Unobtrusive; gathers information across a wide range of places
Reading Reading the literature Learn technical content Are researchers more up to date as a result of this activity? (Are researchers citing most recent findings?) Quantity is often voluminous Good technical detail available
Professional meetings Attending meetings organized by professional societies Access to the newest results; identify future leaders Has the information gathered at meetings changed what was done in the last year? How and how often? Relevant new results are scattered among meetings Fresh results; informal interaction is possible
Workshops Organizing workshops around particular topics of interest Fresh results in targeted areas Has the information gathered at workshops changed what was done in the last year? How and how often? Are researchers more up-to-date as a result of this activity? Funding and logistics; getting the right people there Concentrated collection of relevant research; much opportunity for informal interaction
Personal contact Visiting laboratories or other research sites, exchange of personnel Access to the newest results Are researchers more up-to-date as a result of this activity? Are new insights reported? Have the new insights changed what is being done? Finding the best laboratories to visit Visual access to research process; can talk to more people about the work
Collaboration Designing, carrying out, and analyzing research together Create new knowledge; combine skills Were we able to do things we could not have done on our own? Have we opened wider our window on developments in an important research area? Hard to keep knowledge private when competition is involved Deep understanding for both partners; cost efficiency
Active Project funding Funding, managing, and/or actively collaborating in research projects Develop specific new knowledge Did the project contribute to a growing research area of interest to the organization? Has there been appropriate follow-up engagement in that area? Did seed grant create relationships that were helpful in engagement in the area? Technical mastery is hard for program managers to achieve/maintain when not working in the laboratory Best people can be chosen; can fill knowledge gaps

SOURCE: Committee generated.

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
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Work by Nesta20 in the United Kingdom also illustrates the growing interest in the topic of technology forecasting and examines an array of quantitative techniques used in Future-oriented Technology Analysis.21 A follow-on paper analyzes these quantitative techniques in the context of a more general analytic framework to illustrate “the implicit assumptions about the uncertainty, ambiguity and ignorance that distinct quantitative techniques make when exploring the future.” 22 The authors observed that “Monitoring methods (such as raw bibliometrics or web-scraping) may be able to identify potential outcomes and be useful for activities such as horizon-scanning, but they have limited analytical potential on their own to inform on future states of the world. Therefore, their usefulness depends on their implementation within a larger foresight methodology.”23

A National Research Council report also examined a diverse array of existing forecasting methods and processes, noting that “[t]he value of technology forecasting lies not in its ability to accurately predict the future but rather in its potential to minimize surprises.”24 The report also sets forth a set of attributes for an “ideal forecasting system”25 which integrates both multiple data sources and multiple forecasting methods and processes. Of note, the recommended system makes use of both quantitative and qualitative data and includes both “big data” analysis and diverse human participation.

More active mechanisms for engagement and awareness include participation in professional meetings and conferences, which bring together large concentrations of junior and senior researchers and allow for informal information exchange, as well as access to the newest research findings. Workshops are also a venue for information exchange, typically bringing together researchers around more focused topics of interest. However, given the vast number of meetings held each year and limited travel budgets, especially for international travel, researchers must take a strategic approach to which scientific fora they will participate in.

The most active mechanisms for engagement and awareness include personal contact (e.g., laboratory and other site visits, personnel exchanges), research cooperation and collaboration, and providing funding for research projects. These mechanisms allow for more formal information exchange and

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20Nesta is a UK independent charity that works to increase innovation capacity (formerly NESTA, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts http://www.nesta.org.uk/about-us/our-history

21Quantitative Analysis of Technology Futures. Part I: Techniques, Contexts, and Organizations. Nesta Working Paper No. 13/08. T. Ciarli, A. Coad, and I. Rafols.

22Quantitative Analysis of Technology Futures. Part 2: Conceptual framework for positioning FTA techniques in policy appraisal. Nesta Working Paper No. 13/09. T. Ciarli, A. Coad, and I. Rafols.

23Ibid. p. 29.

24Persistent Forecasting of Technologies. National Research Council. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 2009, p. 1.

25Ibid. Table 7-1.

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
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provide opportunities to share, and thereby reduce costs and risks, as well as leverage the best available talent, research capabilities, and infrastructure. Such high degrees of research engagement and collaboration require explicit and detailed agreements about research objectives and roles, intellectual property, and fully consider all political and national security sensitivities.

Each of these mechanisms has a different set of objectives, strengths, and challenges that should be considered when determining how to best engage with the international research community. As technologies become more sophisticated, organizations will need to employ increasingly active mechanisms to remain capable of innovating, following quickly on the innovations of others, and absorbing the benefits of innovation wherever it happens. In some cases, specific technology areas or one’s choice of desired research collaborator—whether an individual, organization, or country—can limit or restrict available engagement mechanisms. Regardless of which mechanisms are used, there should be clearly articulated success metrics to gauge effectiveness and to improve future engagement efforts. Table1-1 provides potential examples of how an organization might measure success.

While a U.S. research field must engage bottom-up, from the initiatives of investigators, a technology-intensive organization such as the DoD needs to take a more deliberate approach.

1.3 Implications for the Department of Defense

The United States has long relied on technically superior equipment and systems to counter adversaries… However, this superiority is being challenged by increasingly capable and economically strong potential adversaries that are likely developing and fielding counters to some or all of the key technologies on which the United States has come to rely.”26

The DoD has long relied on technological superiority to maintain military advantage and has successfully leveraged U.S. leadership across a diverse spectrum of scientific and technological domains. At the same time, the U.S. defense establishment has for decades benefitted from foreign scientific and engineering developments, for example:27

 

  • Enrico Fermi, an Italian physicist who received the Nobel Prize in 1938 for “his discovery of new radioactive elements produced by neutron irradiation, and for the discovery of nuclear reactions brought about by slow neutrons.”
  • Heinrich Hertz, a German physicist who was the first to demonstrate experimentally the production and detection of Maxwell’s waves.

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26Quadrennial Defense Review 2014. U.S. Department of Defense, p. 25.

27Available at www.inventors.about.com; www.nobelprize.org.

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
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  • Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt, a Scottish physicist who developed the radar locating of aircraft in England.
  • Christian Andreas Doppler, an Austrian physicist who first described how the observed frequency of light and sound waves was affected by the relative motion of the source and the detector (the Doppler effect).
  • Tim Berners-Lee, an English physicist credited with leading the development of the World Wide Web.
  • Charles K. Kao, a Chinese physicist who won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics “for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication.”
  • Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, who both originally studied and began their careers as physicists in Russia and won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics “for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene” conducted at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom.

The DoD’s 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) Report acknowledges that “[w]hile the global technology landscape indicates that the United States should not plan to rely on unquestioned technical leadership in all fields, the Department must ensure that technological superiority is maintained in areas most critical to meeting current and future military challenges.”28 Three overarching characteristics of the global S&T landscape—ongoing geographic expansion, growing interconnectedness, and shifting centers of S&T leadership—combine to make the DoD’s ability to sustain technological superiority to underpin military advantage a daunting challenge. The authors of “Globalization of S&T: Key Challenges Facing DOD” concluded that “[m]aintaining an authoritative awareness of S&T around the world will be essential if the United States is to remain economically and militarily competitive.”29 The dual challenge of maintaining technological superiority in critical areas and also remaining globally aware of relevant S&T advances is not new, but the nature of that challenge is changing.

Quantitative measures such as R&D spending trends provide useful indicators of how the S&T landscape may evolve in a general sense, but they yield little insight as to the dynamics within specific research domains that are of critical importance to the DoD. U.S. domination in total R&D spending is far less relevant than its relative position within research domains that underpin military capabilities.

Lagging indicators, including publications and patents, further corroborate the dynamic and interconnected nature of the global S&T landscape and are commonly used to provide more granular assessments of cutting-edge research.

_________________________

28Quadrennial Defense Review 2014. U.S. Department of Defense, p. 25.

29“Globalization of S&T: Key Challenges Facing DOD.” Timothy Coffey and Steve Ramberg. Center for Technology and National Security Policy: National Defense University. February 2012, p.. 29.

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
×

But, as observed in a report by the Royal Society, they are “incomplete proxies for scientific output and scientific translation, the first being predominantly the output of academic science, and the other relating to the exploitation of ideas and concepts rather than necessarily being specifically scientific.”30 The Royal Society report goes on to argue the need “to explore ways of better measuring the inputs, outputs and impacts of the global scientific landscape.”31

The authors of the 2010 QDR recognized that: “[t]he global economy has changed, with many countries now possessing advanced research, development, and manufacturing capabilities. Moreover, many advanced technologies are no longer predominantly developed for military applications with eventual transition to commercial uses, but follow the exact opposite course.”32 In defining a risk management framework for defense, the report elaborated on the future challenges risk stemming from globalization of S&T (emphasis added):

Future Challenges Risk33

A number of factors related to research and development will, over time, generate increased risk to America’s technological edge. As global research and development (R&D) investment increases, it is proving increasingly difficult for the United States to maintain a competitive advantage across the entire spectrum of defense technologies. Even at current, relatively robust levels of investment, the DoD S&T program is struggling to keep pace with the expanding challenges of the evolving security environment and the increasing speed and cost of global technology development. The Department’s options for managing risk with respect to S&T must be synchronized with efforts by other agencies as well as the private sector. The health of the U.S. R&D base is well beyond the mission of an individual department; it is also driven by commercial and academic interests beyond the direct influence of DoD spending. To assure future technology competence, the Department will continue to be a leading proponent of education standards and opportunities relevant to the technology requirements to enhance national security. The Department will consider the scope and potential benefits of an R&D strategy that prioritizes those areas where it is vital to maintain a technological advantage. This effort will be coupled with further work to assess how best to work with the academy and industry, as well as key international allies to leverage breakthroughs and avoid duplication.

_________________________

30Knowledge, Networks and Nations: Global scientific collaboration in the 21st century. ISBN 978-0-85403-890-9. Copyright The Royal Society, 2011, p. 13.

31Ibid.

32Quadrennial Defense Review Report 2010. U.S. Department of Defense. February 2010, p. 84.

33Ibid. pp. 94-95.

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
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This description of future challenges risk describes the need for a holistic approach that engages other government agencies, academia, the private sector and key allies in its efforts to cope with the “increasing speed and cost of global technology development.” The study committee concurs with this assessment but observes that four years after publication, efforts to develop such an approach are not evident.

More recently, a Defense Science Board (DSB) Task Force on Basic Research, assessed DoD’s posture in light of the ongoing globalization of basic research and offered a number of recommendations aimed at “coordinating with, reaching out to, and harvesting the results of basic research around the world.”34 A separate, but related issue identified by the DSB task force is the absence of a DoD technology strategic plan, without which “lists of priority science or technology areas cannot be specified with sufficient clarity relative to quantitative performance, to timing, or to feasibility and desirability.”35 The recently released “Reliance 21” document identifies 17 technical areas of cross-cutting importance to the DoD and charges a Community of Interest (COI) associated with each technical area with the responsibility to “coordinate international S&T engagement for their technical area.”36 While Reliance 21 provides a useful foundation from which to build, it falls well short of the holistic approach called for in the 2010 QDR.

Finding I

Sustained mission success will require the DoD to selectively maintain technological superiority while effectively leveraging advances occurring throughout the global S&T landscape.

There is ample evidence that the DoD cannot maintain technological superiority across the full spectrum of technologies that underpin military capabilities, but it will remain important to sustain an edge in strategically critical areas. To do so, however, requires global awareness of related research and ongoing evaluation of the best engagement mechanism(s) for building and sustaining a leadership position.

There is a much broader array of technologies with military utility that will be driven by market forces and non-DoD investments. In such cases, DoD should be a “fast follower”—that is, positioned to build rapidly on the advances spawned by others whether in the US or abroad. Science and technology monitoring remains important, but should be aided by a variety of information technologies and tools to maintain pace with the geographically distributed and

_________________________

34Task Force on Basic Research. Defense Science Board. Department of Defense. January 2012, p. 94.

35Ibid, p. 75.

36Reliance 21. Operating Principles: Bringing Together the DoD Science and Technology Enterprise. January 2014, p. 5-6.

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
×

steadily expanding global S&T enterprise. Science and technology collaboration can pay off not only in developing new military-related technologies, but also in establishing and nurturing positive relationships around the world.

As evidenced by numerous citations from DoD-generated documents, the DoD clearly recognizes the importance of both maintaining awareness of global S&T advances and increasing engagement with other parts of the U.S. government, industry, academia, and international allies to leverage its own investment resources. There are many programs underway across the department targeting these objectives, some of which will be described in the following chapter. But what remains lacking is a department-wide strategy to mitigate the future challenges risk defined in the 2010 QDR.

1.4 Summary

The global S&T landscape is both complex and dynamic. Global situational awareness provides researchers with the knowledge necessary to work at the leading edge of their fields (and to collaborate accordingly) and serves as invaluable input at an institutional level to inform S&T budgets, international collaboration policies, and strategies for technological and economic competitiveness and national security.

Many mechanisms for international S&T engagement exist, such as publication scans and bibliometric analyses, researcher exchanges and visits, scientific conferences and meetings, international research funding, and collaborative research activities. Each mechanism ranges on the spectrum from passive and requiring little in-person engagement to ones that involve sustained researcher-to-researcher interaction and knowledge exchange. While missions and objectives vary across S&T organizations, universities, industries, and governments employ many similar approaches for international S&T engagement.

The need for DoD to maintain global awareness of S&T and to engage and/or collaborate in appropriate areas of S&T is critical if the United States is to remain economically and militarily competitive. As science and technology continues to globalize, the DoD research enterprise must find ways to leverage advances being made outside of the United States. In fact, an important motivator for international engagement is the recognition that there are many areas of S&T for which the cutting edge will not be driven by the defense research enterprise, and significant investments are being made in each of these areas by the international public and private sectors.

While defense research collaboration plays an important role, the DoD needs to identify opportunities for substantive engagement with researchers and institutions outside of its historical allied relationships. Strategies for identifying such opportunities should clearly define objectives for engagement; articulate implementation action plans that consider a foreign collaborator’s unique technological, cultural, and geopolitical circumstances; establish mechanisms to ensure that the knowledge gained from engagement is accessible throughout the enterprise; utilize metrics that assess the effectiveness and success of outcomes.

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
×

Subsequent chapters will assess DoD’s current international S&T activities and its approaches for global S&T engagement and awareness, as well as examine opportunities for the DoD to adapt, adopt and leverage engagement approaches used by the public and private sectors in the United States and abroad. Through these examinations, the committee will identify opportunities to improve DoD’s approach for maintaining global S&T situational awareness and for leveraging global S&T developments through appropriate engagement and collaboration efforts.

Suggested Citation:"1 Globalization of Science and Technology." National Research Council. 2014. Strategic Engagement in Global S&T: Opportunities for Defense Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18816.
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According to recent reports, the United States currently accounts for less than one-third of global research and development spending, and it is projected that this fraction will decline to 18% by 2050. These statistics, compounded by the recognition that the United States no longer maintains technological superiority across all research fields, highlight the need for the U.S. research community to stay abreast of emerging science and technology (S&T) around the world, to leverage others' investments, and to seek out collaborations in areas where researchers need to remain at the leading edge.

The United States' Department of Defense (DoD) has long relied on its historical technological superiority to maintain military advantage. However, as the U.S. share of S&T output shrinks and as the U.S. defense research enterprise struggles to keep pace with the expanding challenges of the evolving security environment and the increased speed and cost of global technology development, the DoD must reexamine its strategy for maintaining awareness of emerging S&T developments occurring around the world. To fully leverage these advances and to make strategic research investments, the DoD must assess with whom and in which areas it should collaborate. To delve more deeply into the implications of the globalization of S&T and of international S&T engagement for the DoD, the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research , and the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology asked the National Research Council to assess current DoD strategies in the three Services - Army, Air Force, and Navy - for leveraging global S&T and for implementing and coordinating these strategies across the department.

Strategic Engagement in Global S&T assesses the opportunities and challenges stemming from the globalization of S&T and the implications for the DoD and its Services. This report considers DoD strategies in the three Services for leveraging global S&T and implementation and coordination of these strategies across DoD. The report explores models for global S&T engagement utilized by other domestic and foreign organizations.Strategic Engagement in Global S&T assesses how the ongoing globalization of S&T may impact research funding and priorities and workforce needs, as well as issues of building and maintaining trusted relationships and avoiding technology surprises. This report will be of interest to researchers and industry professionals with expertise in the globalization of science and technology, international engagement, the defense research enterprise, program evaluation, and national security.

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