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Paula Stephan, Professor of Economics at Georgia State University and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research

R&D may be the engine of growth and innovation, but it is also an expensive enterprise. In this time of austerity, policy makers and funders need to consider how to increase R&D productivity and ensure they get the most out of the money that is invested in science.

In my book, How Economics Shapes Science, I explore the ways in which public research organisations and scientists respond to incentives.  From a policy perspective, it is both good news and bad news that they respond.  Get the incentives right, and research productivity is enhanced; get them wrong, and it is dampened.

Many of the examples in the book are drawn from the US, which, because of my experiences on advisory boards at the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, I know reasonably well. While the US science system is typically invoked as the frontier, there are many ways in which the incentives have begun to turn against US science.  There are clear lessons here for others that aspire to be at the frontier.

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