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Recent developments in research systems (Policy Brief 275 - April 2012)

Recent developments in research systems (Policy Brief 275 - April 2012)


This policy brief discusses recent developments in a number of research systems and lays out the outline for the coming years. It takes into account the situation in countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and major emerging countries, focusing on the one hand on characterizing the evolution of their efforts in research and development, and on the other hand, on highlighting specific aspects of public policies in this area.

  • The recent developments in research systems

The impact of the crisis has resulted in a decline in the real growth rate of R&D in 2008 in most OECD countries. Although 2009 marked the first decline in two decades with a -1.6% fall in volume, the impact was moderate and was felt more severely in Japan (-8.6%) and Finland (-2.9%). The United States experienced a decrease in volume close to the OECD average (-1.6%) in 2009, while the decline was smaller in the United Kingdom (-0.6%) and Germany (-0.4%). France is one of the few OECD countries that has increased its efforts in R & D during 2008 (+1.9%) and 2009 (+3.5%). Since 2010, expenditures on R & D are once again rising in most OECD countries, which have pledged to increase their research efforts. This positive outlook is reinforced by the optimism from businesses and enterprises that are affected by these efforts.

Even though public policy responses to support research activities have had a varied degree of actual implementation, they follow the trends observed during the last two decades. These revolve around four main areas (the "four Cs"): Continuity in the efforts despite budgetary difficulties (investing more), Coordination and strategic management (better investing), Coherence and pooling structures (alternative investing) and Culture of innovation (creating demand for innovation and promoting creativity). Many initiatives have been pursued by the OECD countries to improve the efficiency of their research system. Thus, they overwhelmingly favored indirect aid to research companies, even if direct payments are still important. They have sparked initiatives by launching calls for projects without sacrificing recurring aid to research. They also sought greater cooperation between public actors on the one hand and between public and private actors on the other hand.


  • Developments in research and development efforts in OECD countries
  • Convergence of efforts of emerging and developed countries; scientific and technological adjustments will take time
  • Developments in public R&D
  • Author: Mohamed Harfi, Department of Labour-Employment 

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