Entrepreneurial Experiments in Science Policy: Analyzing the Human Genome Project

48 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2009 Last revised: 19 Oct 2013

See all articles by Kenneth G. Huang

Kenneth G. Huang

National University of Singapore (NUS) - ISEM & NUS Business School

Fiona Murray

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Entrepreneurship Center

Date Written: December 21, 2009

Abstract

We re-conceptualize the role of science policy makers, envisioning and illustrating their move from being simple investors in scientific projects to entrepreneurs who create the conditions for entrepreneurial experiments and initiate them. We argue that reframing science policy around the notion of conducting entrepreneurial experiments – experiments that increase the diversity of technical, organizational and institutional arrangements in which scientific research is conducted – can provide policy makers with a wider repertoire of effective interventions. To illustrate the power of this approach, we analyze the Human Genome Project (HGP) as a set of successful, entrepreneurial experiments in organizational and institutional innovation. While not designed as such, the HGP was an experiment in funding a science project across a variety of organizational settings, including seven public and one private (Celera) research centers. We assess the major characteristics and differences between these organizational choices, using a mix of qualitative and econometric analyses to examine their impact on scientific progress. The planning and direction of the Human Genome Project show that policy makers can use the levers of entrepreneurial experimentation to transform scientific progress, much as entrepreneurs have transformed economic progress.

Keywords: Entrepreneurial Experiments, Science Policy, Human Genome Project

JEL Classification: O32, O34, O38

Suggested Citation

Huang, Kenneth Guang-lih and Murray, Fiona E., Entrepreneurial Experiments in Science Policy: Analyzing the Human Genome Project (December 21, 2009). Research Policy, Vol. 39, No. 5, pp. 567-582, 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1526536

Kenneth Guang-lih Huang (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - ISEM & NUS Business School ( email )

Singapore, 117575
Singapore
+6566015059 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/kennethhuang/

Fiona E. Murray

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Entrepreneurship Center ( email )

United States

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