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The Political Economy of Government Programs to Promote New Technology

Cohen, Linda R. and Noll, Roger G. (1983) The Political Economy of Government Programs to Promote New Technology. Social Science Working Paper, 489. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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An important component of the federal budget is programs to develop and to commercialize new technology. This paper applies recent developments in the rational actor theory of political behavior to examine the politics of these programs. The principal theoretical conclusions are that government commercialization projects are relatively unattractive as particularistic distributive programs, but that once a project is begun, the political incentives are to rush the research phase and get on with demonstration, to continue unlucky efforts after their expected payoffs are known not to be worth their costs, and to redefine the goals of the program so as to de-emphasize the initial objective of commercial adoption. These conclusions are then tested by examining two recent projects: the Clinch River Breeder Reactor and the space shuttle. Both programs appear to illustrate the problems predicted by the theory.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Additional Information:Prepared for presentation at the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, September 1983. The research reported here was supported by the Caltech Energy Policy Studies Program and was conducted under the auspices of the Caltech Environmental Quality Laboratory. We are grateful to Jeff Banks, our research assistant, for his contributions to the work reported here.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Caltech Energy Policy Studies ProgramUNSPECIFIED
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:489
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170921-154027996
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:81711
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:22 Sep 2017 18:06
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:46

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