Promoting Innovation: International Collaboration in Science and Technology

“Nature + Technology – Regulation = Plunder”
“Nature – Technology + Regulation = Starvation”
“Nature + Technology + Regulation = Prosperity”
– Sir Paul Collier, The Plundered Planet

Technology has long enabled the prosperity of mankind.[1] However, the debate surrounding the use and development of technology is constantly shifting. Narrowing the scope of innovations upon which a specific government wishes to focus upon is significant. Prioritization with regard to GDP (gross domestic product) expenditures for research and development varies among different countries as scientists, policymakers, politicians, stakeholders, consumers, and constituents are often at odds about the best ways to develop, harness, and maximize technology usage.[2] Thus, a host of factors present potential barriers to actualizing this goal, including: (1) identifying local, national, and international partnerships and collaborations for technology implementation; (2) ensuring adequate security measures to preserve technology resources; (3) supporting technology development; and (4) the role of politics and policymaking in winning broad support for the promotion and use of technology.

Technological development creates and strengthens the instruments that enable international collaboration to be practiced in a higher level. International collaboration in science is rapidly growing. In fact, studies show that citations to articles resulting from international collaboration grew faster that those referring to domestic collaborations.[3] Nations and donors increasingly invest in science and technology. Historical relationships (both in terms of colonial ties and geography), international trade, and an increase in communications and technology are all cited as major science-external reasons for international collaboration.[4] The diffusion of technology creates a certain economic competitiveness unheard of in the industrial ages. In today’s globalized world, research, development and innovation are the basis of competitive advantage and engines of economic growth.

International relations among states in the Age of Information are more tenuous than twenty years ago. A shift from state-centric politics to non-governmental actors and a “shadowy networks of individuals”, first addressed openly by President US George Bush in his 2002 National Security Strategy is no longer a dominant paradigm. Cultural fragmentation and popular discontent contribute to weaker states that are far less able to control security. Still, security threats are a constant concern for the maintenance and development of new technologies.

Internationally, societies are facing huge challenges in the 21st century as most countries are organized as capitalist free economic markets and liberal representative democracies. Regardless, technology can still bring solutions for a wide range of global areas of need, including alleviating poverty, ensuring food security, bolstering energy efficiency, promoting e-health systems, supporting governance, and improving education. Political institutions should serve to propel the invention, innovation, and diffusion of technological change throughout their constituencies.[5]

(Revised June 23, 2021)

Dorkina Myrick, MD, PhD, MPP, is a physician-scientist and pathologist trained at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Myrick also previously served as a Senior Health Policy Advisor in the United States Senate. She obtained her Master of Public Policy degree at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England. Dr. Myrick is currently a JD candidate at the Boston University School of Law.


[1] Auyang, Sunny Y. Technology as a scientific capacity to produce. Creating Online: Retrieved 21 January 2019.

[2] Science and Technology. Research and Development Expenditure (% of GDP). World Bank. Online: Retrieved 21 January 2019.

[3] Persson, O., Glänzel, W. & Danell, R. Inflationary bibliometric values: The role of scientific collaboration and the need for relative indicators in evaluative studies. Scientometrics (2004) 60: 421. Online: Retrieved 21 January 2019.

[4] Wagner, Caroline S. Six case studies of international collaboration in science. Scientometrics. Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 3–26. January 2005. Online: Retrieved 21 January 2019.

[5] Schumpeterian Economics And The Trilogy Of ‘Invention-Innovation-Diffusion.’ First version: November 21, 1997, Last revision: January 24, 1999. Online: Retrieved 21 January 2019.


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