27 April 2007

Idea push, problem pull

Research takes many forms – from academic to industrial. Colleges are building capacity to engage in applied research that has knowledge transfer into industrial and teaching and learning contexts.

One view of college applied research capacity is based on market pull. Applied research can address problems faced by industry – industry pulls research results from the applied research capacity. This is in contrast to basic research ideas that push their way into the market. This bifurcation offers us a useful way to understand how applied research is situated, but we should also remember that innovation is almost always incremental.

Innovation always has a history – there are preconditions and precursors to any invention that give context to the “new” work formed. This issue has been nicely framed by Langdon Winner in his article “Do artifacts have politics?”. Winner’s field of study is the Social Construction of Technology, itself a fertile area of research that examines the social impacts of technology. This is another avenue down which college applied research might move; what are the implications of the innovations we produce?

No comments: