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The "second-generation" statistical manuals

At this point, the shopping list of R&D and innovation statisticians, recently itemized by OECD at a meeting on "Consequences of the Technology Economy Programme for the Development of Indicators," is becoming even more intricate and sophisticated. In addition to the ongoing fourth revision and subsequent expansion of the OECD standard practice for surveys of R&D (the Frascati Manual), three new statistical manuals are being launched by the OECD in close cooperation with national statistical agencies and professional user groups. Experts from the European Community and Unesco are participating as well.

First, at the international level, there is a proposed standard method of compiling and interpreting technology balance-of-payments data. Following the statistical deliberations on dynamic trade relationships, the "TBP Manual" [32] can be looked upon as a forerunner in a series of "second-generation" handbooks on the measurement of scientific, technical, and other innovative activity. These new handbooks link together input, output, and impact indicators in order to better describe and situate innovative activities, in this case the international transfer of technology. Various existing measures of output (e.g. patents and the technology balance of payments) and of impacts (trade in science-based or technology-intensive products and productivity indices) are combined with both economic statistics and new types of R&D data that are drawn from, e.g., bibliometric studies and innovation surveys. Experimental studies of this kind have been conducted by national statistical agencies, but the "TBP Manual" should make possible cross-country studies based also on long time series of data.

Secondly, a manual dealing with surveys of innovative activity in industry is in the making (the "Oslo Manual": [36]). This manual goes far beyond the scope of the Frascati Manual by including a whole set of the indicators discussed earlier in this chapter.

Thirdly, with a more limited scope, a science and technology human resource manual is being developed to facilitate internationally comparable statistics on highly qualified manpower.

On top of this, as an extension of the Frascati Manual, a guideline for the interpretation of bibliometric data is being improved by OECD consultants. Bibliometric methods such as publication counts, citations, co-authorships. and co-work analysis are used for analysing the output of the R&D system. Hence, bibliometric techniques may be useful in evaluating the productivity of individuals, teams of researchers, laboratories, or even national R&D institutions, but they may also be relevant for the tracing of linkages between fields and/or researchers and, combined with other indicators, between science and technology.

For the further development of R&D and innovation indicators in a standard format at least four criteria must be used. The first criterion concerns the real demand or significant importance of the proposed indicators. Will it permit analysis and policy conclusion over and above what can already be done through existing indicators? The second criterion is quality, which is based on theoretical soundness, validity, and operational value. If the indicator is to serve as a basis for policy decisions it must also be reliable and, maybe also, internationally comparable. The third criterion is linked to appropriateness for the users and adaptability to the relevant socioeconomic objective or the development stage in relation to the innovation process. The fourth criterion is availability, which links resource efficiency in the processing of data, timeliness, and realizability of the statistical task [34, table 2].

Taken together, the three international manuals of R&D and innovation statistics should help to improve a "second-level" analytical database to provide a comparative "scoreboard of indicators" of scientific, technological, and other innovative activities in relation to economic performance. This database, which is being created and maintained within the OECD "structural analysis programme," referred to as the "STAN Programme," is to become operational in the early 1990s. It should allow for internationally comparative measurements of links between science, technology, competitiveness, and structural change. Such analytical studies could examine determinants of international competitiveness, the contribution of technology to productivity, and growth patterns at the level of industrial branches or subsectors [33]. Nevertheless, much remains to be done to achieve international comparability.


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