Science, enterprise and profit: ideology in the knowledge-driven economy

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Key policy documents relating to the 'knowledge-driven economy' show that policy makers, university heads and other interested academics have come to view the task of creating science-based industries through the lens of enterprise ideology.Proceeding on the assumption that the scientific fundamentals are already in place, the belief is that industrial applications can be achieved by infusions of enterprise. Such a framing is attractive to those unwilling or unable to engage with the complexities of scientific research or new product development. It offers a surface intelligibility combined with an apparent amenability to straightforward policy interventions. At the same time it is quite unclear, apart from the taking of risks, what attributes and behaviours are actually involved in enterprise. Even the relevance of risk is questionable. Despite the ideological pressure to demonstrate a link between entrepreneurship and risk, none of the relevant research has succeeded in doing so. Nor has risk been a prevalent feature of new venture creation in general and science-based start-ups in particular. The policy is an act of faith, based neither on research nor on experience. Its reliance on enterprise is less a solution than a hope that one will spontaneously appear.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2001

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