Making Washington Focus: First, Re-Educate the Economists

In this article Rob Atkinson argues that policymakers too often take their cues on economic policy from neoclassical economic doctrine that does not appreciate the importance of innovation.

Innovation policy tends to get short shrift in Washington. In this article in Democracy: a Journal of Ideas Rob Atkinson argues that perhaps the most fundamental reason for this is that policymakers take their cues on economic policy from the economics profession, and most Washington economists subscribe to the neoclassical economic doctrine that does not understand the importance of innovation and sees almost no role for government in it.

Indeed, while the economy has been transformed by technology, globalization, and entrepreneurship, the doctrines guiding economic policymakers continue to be informed by twentieth-century conceptualizations, models, and theories. Until more economists get innovation and “innovation economics”, it is unlikely that policymakers will get innovation policy right — but all the more likely that the country will miss out on the next wave of global economic growth.