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Book review.5 1069 Change and competitiveness David R. Charles Technology and the Future of Europe: Global Competition and the Environment in the 1990s C. Freeman, M. Sharp and W. Walker (editors) London, Pinter Publishers, 1991 Though yet another edited book on technology, this book is notable for being written by contributors from a single institution, the Science Policy Research Unit at Sussex University. Indeed the book is in part celebration of the unit’s 25th anniversary as a research centre, and while such an event may merit a collection of papers, few could produce such a large collection of papers from internal contributors. The theme of the book is intended to be an examination of technology policy in Europe and in particular on industrial competitiveness and on the environment. it is perhaps not surprising that the grand objectives of the editors are not fully realized, given the scope of the project and the limitations of the edited book format, but while the contributors have something to say on technology and focus on European industry, they make no significant contribution on the future of Europe as such, or on the potential relationship between global competition and the environment. What the book does provide, however, is a series of interesting case-studies of technical change and its impact on industrial competitiveness in selected (mainly high-tech) sectors, alongside sorne chapters on energy and the environment, the whole suitably topped and tailed with more general commentary. With 23 chapters and 33 authors, it is not possible to comment in detail on each David R. Charles is a researcher at the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK. (Tel: + 44 91 222 7692; fax + 44 91 232 9529). FUTURES December 1992 chapter, although the heterogeneity of the book makes it difficult to review holistically. The chapters are however conveniently grouped into five main sections or themes. Section I provides a largely; empirical backdrop for the book, outlining the performance of European industry at a sectoral level in terms of trade and patent activity. Saunders, Matthews and Patel, for example, draw on trade data to show the decreasing specialization of the European economies, contrasting this with a Japanese economy highly specialized in highgrowth sectors such as electronics and automobiles. Pate1 and Pavitt in examining technological performance, focus on national R&D expenditure and levels of patenting. While this analysis supports accepted views of the success or otherwise of particular national innovation systems, the link between national performance and corporate strategy is not well covered. Strategy is expressed in terms of levels of patenting, and the performance of firms is said to be determined by country specific factors. There is therefore little consideration of the diversity of the business strategies of firms, and hence of the reasons for variations in firms patenting performance. Sharp’s review of technology policy in Europe is a solid piece, which begins to touch on the key policy and industrial contradictions in its final section and leads in to the sectoral studies where the impact of policies for competition and collaboration can be determined. Europe’s policy response has been strongest in the area of the information and communication technologies, and these are the focus of section II, which addresses both themes and specific sectors. Hobday’s study of the semiconductor industry is typical of the sector studies in the book: much empirical detail in a historical review of the restructuring of the industry. The most important element of the chapter is given almost as an aside, being that the successful EC firms in 1070 Book reviews recent years have benefited from the transfer of managerial expertise from US transplants in Europe. It would appear that this point could have significant implications for a number of sectors covered in the book and casts a shadow over the wisdom of protectionist industrial strategies. Elsewhere in this section, it is refreshing to see that the chapter by Brady and Quintas on software draws on new and original data on UK firms, and features a useful analysis of the development of technical problems in the industry rather than a litany of the activities of the major firms. Mansell and Morgan’s piece on telecorns services successfully weaves developments in the policy environment with the response of the firms, while the obligatory contribution on standards (Rosario and Schmidt) nonetheless provides a useful review of what tends to be an issue neglected by all but the fanaticists. In moving on to a less focused set of industries in section III, the book loses its sense of direction. Whilst a useful source of information for those curious about certain industries, there is little by way of general revelations, and probably little new material for the sectoral specialist. The following section IV takes a new tack completely, examining ‘Energy, Environment and Regulation’, issues that have not been addressed in the earlier chapters, although some tangential links could have been contrived. Here the emphasis is on the reviewing of policy at the national and EC level rather than issues arising from the implementation of within industries. Again the policy prospective element is rather brief. Finally there are three chapters presenting an overview of newly emerging policy agenda in Europe: East&West relations, new defence policies and general aspects of industrial technological and environmental policy. In many ways the most successful of all the chapters in addressing the theme they provide a strong conclusion to the book and try to tease out the future implications that are hidden in the more specific sectoral chapters. Overall, the weakness of the book is in its concentration on a sectoral approach, when so many of the technological developments and relationships that are explored act across sectors, particularly in the information and communication technologies. As such the book turns away from many of the real strengths of SPRU, such as the management of innovation, science policy, indicators and metrics, and the wider role of science and technology in social and economic change. The role of innovation in sectoral change has been one element in the SPRU agenda, but it is arguable whether it is the element to be highlighted in a book intended to celebrate this anniversary. Instead the book becomes yet another source to dip into for some information on a specific sector, although the journalistic nature of some of the empirical evidence suggests that the book will date quite quickiy. In short, there are other books from SPRU that stand as a better celebration on the unit’s first quarter century. The edited volume by Dosi et a/ in 1988, for example, drew together a very satisfying collection of theoretical pieces on the economics of technological change, and there is a new book by Chris Freeman. In conclusion, this book has some useful chapters, some insights and some challenges for future research, but it lacks a sense of cohesion, as is typical with edited works. The title promises more than is delivered, although that is perhaps more a fault of the title than the contributors. The book makes a useful addition to the library, but is an expensive investment for those individuals whose interests are covered in just a few chapters. FUTURES December 1992