Les deux économies de l’innovation

HONG KONG – Depuis 250 ans, l'innovation technologique a entraîné le développement économique. Mais les mécanismes économiques sont très différents selon que l’on se trouve à la frontière de l'innovation ou que l’on soit un suiveur qui s'efforce de rattraper son retard.

A la frontière, l'économie de l'innovation commence par la découverte et culmine par la spéculation. De la recherche scientifique à l'identification des applications commerciales des nouvelles technologies, les progrès se font par essais et erreurs. Les technologies stratégiques qui ont maintes fois transformé l'économie de marché – depuis les chemins de fer jusqu’à l'Internet – ont nécessité la construction de réseaux dont la valeur d'usage était inconnue lorsqu'ils ont été déployés pour la première fois.

Par conséquent, l'innovation à la frontière dépend de sources de financement qui ne sont pas directement préoccupées pour la valeur économique ; c'est pourquoi elle ne peut pas être réduite à l'allocation optimale des ressources. La fonction de production conventionnelle de l'économie néoclassique propose un prisme dangereusement trompeur pour interpréter les processus d'innovation à la frontière.

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