Industrial strategy is back at the centre of geopolitics. From the UK’s ambition to be a Science and Tech Superpower to the US Inflation Reduction Act, it is widely believed that being on the technological cutting edge is crucial for both economic prosperity and national security.
History does play a role in these discussions. The post-war US is now widely praised as an entrepreneurial state and a mission economy, demonstrating the power politicians can wield to transform the technological basis of society.
‘When Missions Fail: lessons in ‘high technology’ from post-war Britain’ suggests we can learn more about industrial strategy from the troubled British case than the much-vaunted example of the United States. It suggests that any serious strategy for ‘high technology’ in the UK must focus on working with allies and international business, and be wary of the attention placed on sustaining national capabilities.