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ERIC Number: ED506567
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Sep
Pages: 23
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
RAND's Rose-Colored Glasses: How RAND's Report on U.S. Competitiveness in Science and Technology Gets It Wrong
Ezell, Stephen J.; Atkinson, Robert D.
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
In recent years a number of reports have raised alarm over the deteriorating state of U.S. science and technology (S&T) competitiveness. But a recent report by the RAND Corporation, "U.S. Competitiveness in Science and Technology," argues that the U.S. continues to lead the world. RAND's report has been interpreted to suggest that the "clarion call" of concern about threats to U.S. S&T competitiveness is alarmist and overblown. However, RAND's report contains serious structural and analytic flaws that misread the fundamental position of U.S. S&T competitiveness. This brief presents a detailed critique of the report showing that in contrast to RAND's rosy assessment, America's lead on a number of key S&T indicators is eroding rapidly, and in some cases vanishing entirely. While this brief is not a definitive response --Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) will release a comprehensive report this November detailing the state of U.S. competitiveness vis-a-vis leading European and Asian countries--it provides an overview of what it believes to be the report's key limitations. These include: (1) Framing the wrong fundamental question regarding the S&T competitiveness debate; (2) Providing an incomplete historiography of U.S. S&T policy development, particularly policies developed in response to previous challenges to U.S. S&T competitiveness; (3) Using inappropriate or incomplete benchmark metrics to assess U.S. S&T and economic competitiveness; (4) Under-emphasizing within the report a number of indicators that clearly demonstrate trends of weakening U.S. S&T competitiveness; (5) Failing to include certain key measures needed to deliver a true assessment of U.S. S&T competitiveness; and (6) Using available time-series data sets--ending by 2003 at the latest in most cases --that are not reflective of the competitive challenge that has emerged since 2000 and do not adequately reflect the competitive landscape of mid-2008. (Contains 3 figures and 88 endnotes.)
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. 1101 K Street NW Suite 610, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-449-1351; Fax: 202-638-4922; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation