Edited by Philip McCann and Tim Vorley
Chapter 16: The UK productivity paradox and the governance of UK science and technology policy: lessons from California?
While the explicit adoption of a UK industrial strategy in 2017 demonstrates the national priority accorded to reversing the productivity slowdown, this industrial strategy relies on a problematic centralized science/technology approach, first articulated in 1993. The UK productivity paradox arises because UK productivity growth has declined consistently despite adherence to this science/technology approach. The effort to implement this industrial policy is undercut by the UK’s continued commitment to macroeconomic austerity policy. Further, the adoption of this strategy has furthered the decades-long pattern of instability in the ministerial and research council structures tasked with coordinating national policy. The coordination of a contradictory top-down science/technology approach by shifting structures of national government guidance, combined with the impact of austerity macroeconomic policy on devolved sub-national governments, is unlikely to permit national or local seedbeds of innovation and employment growth to flourish. In effect, challenges of organization and governance in UK industrial and science/technology policy must be addressed as a precondition to moving past the UK productivity paradox. A brief consideration of parallel developments in California, a state widely admired as a seedbed of economic growth and innovation, reveals some possibly useful insights for the UK.
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