4.3 Promotion and regulation
Whichever way policies or priorities are chosen, two basic approaches to the implementation of technology policy or strategy are usually posited. The most obvious is by direct promotion or support of desired developments, through direct funding of R & D or demonstration projects or through some form of market support, subsidy, or tax concessions to stimulate desired developments. Stimulation or promotion can also be achieved by other forms of financial support e.g. low interest loans, loan guarantees etc. and by background support – the provision of technical advice, training schemes and so on.
The second approach to the implementation of technology policy is by means of regulation – legislative measures to inhibit undesirable developments and to ensure that hazards are minimised.
Regulation can also act as a stimulus to innovation that avoids undesirable effects and hazards. Thus, for example, new laws on toxic waste or vehicle emissions can stimulate companies to improve existing options or find alternative technologies.
The development of regulatory rules and controls can thus be seen not just as negative ‘technological censorship’ but equally as an indirect way of ‘steering’ the pattern of technological development positively. However not everyone sees regulation in this positive light, and there is a continuing debate over the relative merits of, and correct balance between, stimulation and regulation.