May 22, 2006

Government initiatives that went awry for technology development

The Q&A session to my TechLeb panel did produce a few interesting observations. Perhaps the most instructive were when I asked for “unsuccess” stories of government intervention — things governments tried to aid tech businesses that didn’t work out so well. Most of the answers all boiled down to the same thing — throwing money at ill-conceived ideas. These could be economically-motivated research projects that never produced much of economic value — Japan’s Fifth Generation Computer Project is a prime example, but there are many similar developed-world fiascos. (Basic research and even military research seem to produce more benefits by serendipidity than economically targeted research does in total.) Or they could be incubators and science parks to which nobody much ever came. But basically, most of the answers amounted to over-optimism about specific initiatives.

Most of the rest of the answers were of the nature “Well, in addition to X and Y, government should also have done Z.” But that’s a story for other posts.


One Response to “Government initiatives that went awry for technology development”

  1. The Monash Report»Blog Archive » Incubator possibilities and essentials in the developing world on June 11th, 2006 1:00 am

    […] I came away from TechLeb with some very interesting mixed messages about incubators, science parks, technology trade zones, whatever. (Jacques Masboungi’s talk on the subject was particularly interesting.) On the one hand, they seem to be one of the best things governments can do to foster technology development. On the other hand, they seem to be one of the easiest ways governments can screw up. And since no two projects are the same, it can be hard to generalize from experience. […]

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