Applying Historical Examples to the Present

by Katharine Watkins Webb


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To begin to understand how to assess the spinoff potential of the Strategic Defense Initiative, this paper examines other research and development (R&D) programs, investigating both new products and new processes. Programs examined include Apollo and other National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) programs, government demonstration projects, CERN, the Manhattan Project, and military R&D. The research results indicate that (1) industries that are closely involved in both government and commercial efforts seem more likely to transfer scientific research; (2) NASA has encouraged commercial spinoffs, but other benefits include management techniques and quality control procedures; (3) an important spinoff is the training of scientists and engineers; and (4) demonstration projects may lead to spinoffs even if the primary system is not adopted.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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