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Should governments fund construction research?

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This paper considers the role played by government in stimulating innovation to improve quality, profitability and competitiveness in construction activities. It questions whether governments should fund research and development in construction, and if so, what level and types of support might be appropriate to meet emerging needs. It addresses this with reference to the current debate on the public funding of science, citing Kealey and Pavitt. The author considers specific construction-related issues and changing conditions, indicating the need for more, rather than less funding by both private and public sectors. In conclusion, the author develops a third way, different from Kealey's and Pavitt's approaches. Construction requires a strong and vibrant research base, partly funded by government. Simultaneously, the state requires a research and knowledge base in order to fulfil its roles such as for governance of technologies in the built environment. A complementarity effect arises from both public and private funding - which is therefore greater than the sum of the parts.

L'auteur examine le role joue par le gouvernement en vue de stimuler l'innovation pour ameliorer la qualite, la rentabilite et la competitivite dans le secteur du batiment. Il s'interroge sur le fait de savoir si les gouvernements doivent financer la recherche et le developpement dans ce secteur et, si la reponse est positive, quel niveau et quels types de soutien seraient appropries pour repondre aux besoins qui se font jour. A cet effet, il se refere au debat public qui s'instaure actuellement sur le financement public de la science et cite MM. Kealey et Pavitt. L'auteur s'interesse aux questions specifiquement liees a la construction ainsi qu'a l'evolution de la situation qui militent en faveur d'une augmentation du financement public et prive plutot que d'une diminution. Pour conclure, l'auteur propose une troisieme voie, differente des methodes preconisees par MM. Kealey et Pavitt. La construction doit s'appuyer sur une base de recherche solide et dynamique, financee en partie par le gouvernement. Simultanement, l'etat a besoin d'une base de recherche et de connaissances pour tenir son role, par exemple, de gerant des technologies relatives au cadre bati. Il se degage un effet de complementarite des financements publics et prives qui est superieur a la somme des deux parties.
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Keywords: COMPETITIVENESS; CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY; PUBLIC POLICY; REGULATION; RESEARCH POLICY; TECHNICAL CHANGE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 1997

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