NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Endless Frontier: Reaping What Bush Sowed?

Paula Stephan


This chapter is a preliminary draft unless otherwise noted. It may not have been subjected to the formal review process of the NBER. This page will be updated as the chapter is revised.

Chapter in forthcoming NBER book The Changing Frontier: Rethinking Science and Innovation Policy, Adam Jaffe and Benjamin Jones, editors
Conference held August 2-3, 2013
Forthcoming from University of Chicago Press

I examine and document how the Endless Frontier changed the research landscape at universities and how universities responded to the initiative. I show that the agencies it established and funded initially recruited research proposals from faculty and applications from students for fellowships and scholarships. By the 1960s, universities began to push for more resources from the federal government for research, support for faculty salary and research assistants and higher indirect costs. The process transformed the relationship between universities and federal funders; it also transformed the relationship between universities and faculty. The university research system that has grown and evolved faces a number of challenges that threaten the health of universities and the research enterprise and have implications for discovery and innovation. Five are discussed in the closing section. They are (1) a proclivity on the part of faculty and funding agencies to be risk averse; (2) the tendency to produce more PhDs than the market for research positions demands; (3) a heavy concentration of research in the biomedical sciences; (4) a continued expansion on the part of universities that may place universities at increased financial risk and (5) a flat or declining amount of federal funds for research.

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This paper was revised on July 18, 2014

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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w19687, The Endless Frontier: Reaping what Bush Sowed?, Paula Stephan
Commentary on this chapter: Comment, Bruce A. Weinberg
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