Science and Technology in Brazil: A New Policy for a Global World (1)

Simon Schwartzman, editor

Rio de Janeiro: Fundação Getúlio Vargas, 1995 (vol 1). All texts included here are first versions, before being edited for the printed volume.


Science and Tecnology in Brazil: new policy for a global world , by Simon Schwartzman, Eduardo Krieger, Fernando Galembeck., Eduardo Augusto Guimarães and Carlos Osmar Bertero.

Comments on "Science and Tecnology in Brazil", by Michael Gibbons.

Science and Technology in the new world order, by Geoges Ferné.

United States science and technology policy: the effects of a changing international environment, by Eugene B. Skolnikoff.

United States science and technology policy: issues for the nineties, by Lewis Branscomb.

Performance, specialization and international integration of science in Brazil: changes and comparisons with other Latin American countries and Israel, by Thomas Schott.


The papers included in this volume were prepared for a policy study on science and technology in Brazil carried on between 1992 and 1993 by the Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo, Fundação Getúlio Vargas. The study was done at the request of the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology, within the Program for Scientific and Technological Development (Programa de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, PADCT II), with partial support from a sector loan from the World Bank. A second volume includes papers written in Portuguese, dealing with the institutional aspects of science and technology, and its economic and social implications. The third volume brings together papers about specific sectors of scientific and technological activities in Brazil. The coordination team included Simon Schwartzman (Fundação Getúlio Vargas and Universidade de São Paulo, general coordination), Moacyr Krieger (Instituto do Coração and the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, biological sciences), Fernando Galembeck (University of Campinas, physical sciences and engineering), Eduardo Augusto Guimarães (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, economic dimensions) and Carlos Bertero (Fundação Getúlio Vargas, administrative and institutional aspects), with management support from José Roberto Ferro (Federal University of São Carlos and Fundação Getúlio Vargas).

After a brief period of rapid expansion, in the 1970's, the Brazilian scientific and technological sector entered a time of instability and uncertainties in the eighties, characterized by reduced and uncertain resources, successive institutional reorganizations, and a general feeling of uneasiness about the role science and technology was supposed to play in the country. In the eighties, the two programs for scientific and technological development (PADCT I and PADCT II) signed between the Brazilian government and the World Bank provided some degree of resource stability to a few selected sectors, but did not replace the need for a broader policy and a clearer perspective. This need became apparent in the negotiations between the Brazilian government and international agencies, such as the World Bank and the Interamerican Development Bank, for additional loans to the science and technology sector. In consequence, three studies were commissioned by the Brazilian government to evaluate and make suggestions for the future. One, carried on within the Ministry of Science and Technology itself, with support from the United Nations Development Program, looked more specifically to the institutional aspects of the S&T sector. Another, led by Luciano Coutinho at the Universidade de Campinas, also within the PADCT II program, concentrated on technological innovation in the Brazilian productive sector. The third was our study, aimed at an assessment of Brazil's scientific and technological capabilities in the current national and international context, and the formulation of a new perspective for the whole sector.

The conclusions, presented in the first chapter of this volume, do not represent the official view of the Brazilian government. They are the sole responsibility of the coordinating team and individual paper authors, and are presented to the government and the public as suggestions and proposals for discussion. The study was carried on without government interference and with complete freedom for the participants to express their views and perspectives, and the same freedom was granted to the authors of each commissioned paper. In March, 1994, the Fundação Getúlio Vargas organized a seminar where participants of the three studies presented their main conclusions to the Ministry of Science and Technology, government officials and the public, and since then the wealth of materials produced are being disseminated and brought under scrutiny.

The main assumption of our study is that science and technology should play a strategic role in Brazil, given the need to improve productivity in the economy, to deal with problems of poverty, education, health and environment degradation, and to participate more fully in an integrated world economy and society. The incorporation of technical knowledge in the productive process is necessary not only to guarantee the competitiveness of Brazil's products in the international market, but also to assure that the benefits of this activity are actually absorbed by the country's broader population. Poverty, education, health and environment are problems of exceeding complexity, which cannot be dealt with without the benefit of specific technological innovations, and the proper understanding of their broader causes, implications and consequences. But science and technology are not just embodied in pieces of equipment, registered patents and technical literature in bookshelves and computer disks. They exist, above all, in the culture and daily practice of human beings, as part of their education and life experiences. The more this culture and practical experiences spread in society, the more society can benefit from them. This is why no science and technology policy can be successful if it is not part of a much broader policy to expand, improve and consolidate basic education, and to increase the general competence of the productive system as a whole. This concern with the internal benefits of science and technology is not in contradiction, but in fact requires, an active integration in the international markets and networks for technological products and scientific knowledge, through the elimination of barriers to technological transfers and investment in the improvement of innovative capabilities and scientific competence of individuals, firms and educational and research institutions.

The Brazilian scientific and technological system which took shape in the seventies worked from a completely different set of assumptions. These assumptions, however, have still not been fully revised, and still shape many current proposals and ideas The following table, under the risk of oversimplification, compares the assumptions of the past with the current perspectives on some key issues. The full implications of this conceptual shift are spelled out in the papers now being published, and are gradually being absorbed by Brazilian society. As they do, they will add to the country's efforts to become a more competent, economically viable and just society.

Rio de Janeiro, March 1995


1. Rio de Janeiro: Fundação Getúlio Vargas, 1995. All texts included here are first versions, before being edited for the printed volume.