Only a few hundred Chinese received doctorates at Chinese universities in 1987; two decades later, China could boast "36,247 doctoral students, approximately 63 percent with degrees in science and engineering." Segal, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, examines Asia's prodigious boom in education and entrepreneurship, and how its progress is hindered by bureaucracy and overregulation (India) and state control and a lack of transparency (China). Segal shows how America can meet the Asian challenge with such specific recommendations as increasing the number of H1-B visas for skilled foreign workers and other prescriptions that prove more vague: a call for more "collaborative communities of scientists and entrepreneurs." Still this lucid, stimulating analysis shows why America's open, multicultural society can make a significant contribution to innovation in the decades to come, even though Asian countries will continue to gain influence and the U.S. will never again enjoy the scientific and technological dominance it enjoyed following WWII. Segal concludes on a guardedly (and welcome) optimistic note: with more attention paid to fostering and funding ecosystems of scientific research, the U.S. can "prosper and play a dynamic role in the new world of globalized innovation." (Jan.)
An optimistic forecast for the future of American innovation.
Despite the rise of China and India as economic powers seeking advanced technology, the United States will "play a dynamic role in the new world of globalized innovation," writes Segal, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. In recent years, America's technological lead has eroded as a result of flat spending on basic research, declining science and engineering enrollments and other factors, most notably the rise of Asia. China, for example, is pushing to the forefront of nanotechnology is already the world's largest exporter of high-tech products. But many policymakers have overblown the Asian threat, writes Segal, ignoring or underestimating many of the factors that go into innovation. In particular, Asia lags in developing the new talent and the organizations and relationships (between academe, government and business) that sustain innovation. Although booming, education in China and India is producing engineering and science graduates who often lack practical, analytical and teamwork skills. Progress in both nations is also slowed by state controls and bureaucracies. To boost innovation at home, the United States must revitalize connections between universities and industry, encourage technological entrepreneurship and build more collaborative communities of scientists and entrepreneurs. The author stresses the need for American scientists to maintain close ties with Asia, where more and more scientific advances will occur. "In this era of collaborative and globalized innovation," he writes, "companies and countries are inextricably dependent on ideas and talent from the outside." Segal offers many suggestions to help encourage the design of effective policies to bolster "the creation, commercialization and spread of novel ideas." By exploiting its "comparative advantage—an open and flexible culture and a web of institutions, understandings and relations that move ideas from the lab to the marketplace," the United States can remain a force in innovation and may even produce technological discoveries that spur recovery from the current recession.
Not necessarily for general readers, but a must for policymakers.