Strategic intervention by government in technology capacity-building
In the developed economies, industrial growth and international competitiveness usually depend on access to new technologies and the capacity of different countries to sustain their lead in innovation and technological development. Since the early 1950s much of the discussion on technological capacity-building and competitiveness has therefore centred around the impact of policy, namely whether or not an active policy is necessary to achieve technological leadership and improve the competitiveness of national companies.
Although many developed countries have used industrial policy at one point or another, either to protect/preserve old industries or as a response to new industrial problems, only a few have used it consistently. In recent years, however, the loss of competitiveness arising from new technologies has forced most developed countries to focus on to a set of principles that broadly favour strategic policy intervention in key sectors. In the case of developing countries, on the other hand, the industrial policy debate has revolved around the infant-industry argument and in particular the question of how and for how long emerging industries should be protected.
Those who see a role for policy intervention argue that progress can be made through selective or strategic intervention in key industries, despite lack of clarity on how the selection is to be undertaken or when intervention should cease.
Orthodox neoclassical economists either do not accept a role for strategic intervention, or conceding the rare occurrence of market failure, they insist that government failure inherent in remedial actions will be even more damaging. For non-interventionists the type of industries and technologies developed should be determined not by government policy but by the market. The role of government should then be confined to creating the right conditions for competition and the market to function properly. Such competition is believe to be highly desirable because it leads to efficient production at a minimum cost and creates an environment conducive to technological change and innovation. Anything which interferes with such competition is therefore undesirable.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.