Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Research: The Undiscovered Continent

Hat tip: Thought du Jour:
Research is an activity similar to exploring unknown lands. You know generally where you want to go. You don’t quite know what you are looking for and certainly not what you will find and how long it will take and cost, but you are motivated by knowing that you might make a discovery that will be valuable to yourself , your country and perhaps even humanity – in that order. Research is an ill-defined process and the most valuable results occur more by chance than good planning. There are opportunities for private and social gain and many chances to misappropriate funds because research is difficult to monitor. ... Administering these policies requires public servants to act more like venture capitalists by administering the use of public funds in activities where there is a less than 5% chance of success. Their training in managing the prudent use of public funds does not promote such actions. Reporting annually that 95% of approved expenditures failed is not something a bureaucrat would relish doing, especially year after year.

Christopher Maule, “Reinventing CIDA – Some thoughts”, 15 May 2010.

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