ITIF strives for objective and rational analysis that is guided by a set of core goals and values. We are open to, and indeed seek out, persuasive new information that challenges our point of view, but these goals and values determine the issues we prioritize and the analytical frameworks we use to evaluate policy questions, reach conclusions, and provide recommendations, as follows:
We seek to advance innovation. We believe innovation can almost always be a force for good. It is the major driver of human advancement and the essential means for improving societal welfare. A robust rate of innovation makes it possible to achieve many other goals—including increases in median per-capita income, improved health, transportation mobility, and a cleaner environment.
We believe economic and technology policy should focus first and foremost on growth. While some policies that increase inclusiveness and opportunity can also spur innovation, some that prioritize a fairer distribution of the fruits of innovation over innovation itself risk limiting growth to such an extent that most people are worse off than they would otherwise be.
We are champions for the public good. We believe that societal welfare is defined by more than the aggregation of narrowly defined individual rights and that policies that privilege individual self-interest over the broader public interest are often short-sighted and harmful.
We believe disruptive innovation almost always leads to economic and social progress. While we recognize that innovation often involves a process of “creative destruction,” which can threaten the established order among companies, industries, and occupations, we believe that the role of government is not to protect competitors from change; if anything, it is to accelerate innovation. But at the same time, government should help communities and individuals dislocated by technological advancement adapt and make successful transitions.
We have a considered faith in markets. ITIF believes innovation is usually maximized when for-profit businesses are allowed to compete with relatively few restrictions. At the same time, we believe that the process of innovation is complex and that while doctrinaire notions about free markets and limited government might have made sense for some 20th century industries, applying those orthodoxies rigidly is a recipe for underperformance in 21st-century innovation industries. Maximizing innovation requires limited, but smart state action to support key innovation inputs (e.g., research and skills), adopt innovation in government enterprises, drive innovation in key industries of the future, and speed the transformation of complex industries and systems.
We believe in deftly tailoring laws and regulations to achieve their intended purposes in a rapidly evolving economy. While we seek to maximize innovation, it should not come at the expense of other goals and values. Just because a product or service is delivered on a new digital platform does not mean that longstanding intellectual property concerns go by the wayside. And just because an industry or firm operates digitally does not mean that regulatory requirements should diverge from those that apply to others providing similar products or services. But regulatory parity does not have to mean the exact same regulation for everyone; rather, it should mean the same level of protection, often achieved through different means.
We believe in deeper global integration. ITIF believes that expanded trade and cross-border investment are key drivers of increased global innovation, but only when nations allow trade and investment decisions to be made on the basis of voluntary, competitively determined business considerations. Government policies that limit imports and investment, force foreign investment or technology transfer as a condition of market access, discriminate against foreign firms, or weaken intellectual property protection undermine global innovation and prosperity. And government actions to fight such practices, far from being “protectionist,” are in fact supporting global free trade.
We are international in our outlook. While ITIF is based in Washington, DC, our mission is to advance innovation globally. We help and support policymakers around the world to advance policies that spur innovation in their own economies while we oppose policies that seek to advance unfair, “innovation mercantilist,” zero-sum, or negative outcomes.