Governing Transformative Technological Innovation

Governing Transformative Technological Innovation

Who’s in Charge?

Peter W.B. Phillips

New technologies often appear to be beyond the control of any existing governing systems. This is especially true for transformative technologies such as information technologies, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. Peter Phillips examines in this book the deep governing structures of transformative technology and innovation in an effort to identify which actors can be expected to act when, under what conditions and to what effect. He analyzes the life cycles of an array of examples where converging technologies have created transformations and supervisory challenges.

Chapter 8: Governing with Civil Authorities

Peter W.B. Phillips

Subjects: innovation and technology, innovation policy, politics and public policy, public policy


The United Nations once dealt only with Governments. By now we know that peace and prosperity cannot be achieved without partnerships involving Governments, international organizations, the business community and civil society. In today’s world, we depend on each other. Kofi Annan, Secretary General, United Nations INTRODUCTION Most conversations about and analyses of new technologies begin by focusing on either the role of the state or the operation of one or more of the market actors. This two-dimensional space may be a good place to start, but it is far too narrow to understand and appreciate the complex forces involved in technological and institutional innovation. In our personal lives the state and market do play major roles in how we define our existence, our accomplishments and our hopes, but there is much more that defines us as individuals. Our sense of meaning and purpose is seldom simply defined by the state or market. Even the most authoritarian, idealistic government seldom commands complete subjugation of the individual to the whole. Furthermore, the most aggressive, materialistic person usually has interests that transcend the market. Impersonal state-based policies and structures and anonymous arm’s-length market transactions offer little sense of meaning to most of us. Instead, we look beyond the state and the market for context, meaning and a sense of belonging and purpose. We live in a complex, three-dimensional world. In the world, we engage individually or collectively in a wide range of associations that help to define us. These organizations are defined in...

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