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America Inc.? Innovation and Enterprise in the National Security State.

America Inc.? Innovation and Enterprise in the National Security State

Author: Dr. Linda Weiss

Publisher: Cornell University Press

Copyright Date: 2014

Hard/Softcover/Digital: Hardcover, 280 pages

ISBN-10:0801452686

ISBN-13:978-0801452680

Reviewed by: Mr. Michael McMahon, Adjunct Faculty,

School of Continuing Studies, Georgetown University

Review:

America Inc.? offers a well-documented and researched challenge to those who take great confidence in the role of private enterprise and limited government as the foundation stones for U.S. technological dominance from the post-Cold War period to the Post-9/11 era.

Australian academic Linda Weiss sets forth to identify and describe the critical players and relationships responsible for ensuring America's technological superiority for both national security and commercial purposes. In the process, she aims to debunk several mythologies surrounding the roles of the public and private sectors in the U.S. economy.

Weiss starts by identifying a National Security State (NSS)--an apparatus much more expansive than the usual suspects in defense (law enforcement and intelligence)--as the driving impetus behind U.S. technological innovation. The NSS is not an authoritarian enterprise, but rather a technology enterprise geared toward building and maintaining technological supremacy over geopolitical rivals such as the Soviet Union and commercial competitors such as Japan. Chapters focus on the specific means and methods by which her conceptualized NSS guides U. S. industry to specific technological outcomes. In keeping with the traditional American ethos of private enterprise and a limited government role in the national economy, the NSS inclines towards hybrid mechanisms such as venture capital investments, licensing, and new institutional arrangements that move state-funded innovations to market.

One of the popular myths that Weiss targets is the "serendipity argument" that government-funded research and development produces spin-off applications suitable for commercial markets. To the contrary, Weiss argues "spin-around"--that the NSS often looks first toward the commercial sustainability of innovative products so that government agencies can procure successful commercial-off-the-shelf technology afterwards.

After an exhaustive litany of case studies and examples, readers are left with the United States as a unique model of hybrid capitalism, whereby U.S. government agencies are in fact highly entwined in the commercial sector in order to build and maintain high-tech dominance. The various categories and models of public-private partnership presented by Weiss are a credit to her substantial research and analysis; they are quite informative and help give order to an otherwise seemingly endless array of federal agency initiatives and programs.

Her final conclusions--especially the myth-debunking narratives--run the risk of being somewhat overstated, and may prove less illuminating for serious students of the field. Though Weiss clearly has the true believers of free-market capitalism in her sights, her substantial scholarship chronicling U.S. technological dominance from the post-Cold War period to the Post-9/11 era renders America, Inc.? well suited for academic study.

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Author:McMahon, Michael
Publication:Defense A R Journal
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2018
Words:466
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