Analysis of Federally Funded Demonstration Projects

Final Report

by Walter S. Baer, Leland Johnson, Edward W. Merrow


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Analyzes successful and unsuccessful aspects of 24 demonstration projects conducted to promote technological innovations for commercial use. Successful projects tend to have a technology well in hand; cost and risk sharing with local participants; project initiative from nonfederal sources; the existence of a strong industrial system for commercialization; inclusion of all target audiences in planning and operations; and absence of tight time constraints. The study's general conclusions are: demonstrations have a narrow scope for effective use; technology diffusion depends on "market pull" rather than "technology push"; demonstrations are weak tools for penetrating institutional and organizational barriers to diffusion; large projects with heavy federal funding are particularly prone to difficulty; on-site project management is generally effective; and information dissemination is not a serious problem. The study presents recommendations for the selection and conduct of future demonstrations and the dissemination of their results. (See also R-1925, R-1927.)

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