SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
AIR FORCE OFFICE OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ARLINGTON VA ARLINGTON
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Like it or not, change is the hallmark of the contemporary world. Generally we like it since we identify change with the idea of progress. In operational terms this reduces to the introduction of new ways of doing things, new products, new processes, new forms of social organizations, new industrial practices in short, innovation in the broad sense of the word. Clearly, technology -- including product or process directed applied science is often an integral part of the process of innovation, but what about that scientific research which has improved understanding of phenomena as its principal goal and new knowledge as its primary product Does this phenomena-oriented research play a central role in the innovative process Conventional wisdom, imbued with the idea that innovation usually starts with new understanding, gives a yes to this question, but frequently, particularly recently, this yes is being questioned. I believe also that the answer is most certainly yes, but I have come to have considerable respect for the reasons behind the challenges to the conventional wisdom. In the present paper I discuss the central importance of phenomena, oriented research to innovation, drawing from recent studies on science-technology interactions. These studies show that the demonstration of the role of science in innovation requires focus on the magnitude, variety and importance of the dialogue which takes place between the scientific and technological communities rather than a preoccupation with the role of new scientific research as the fountainhead from which innovation springs.