BRUMMER, Matthew

International Politics and Domestic STI Policy; Japanese Foreign Policy

"The story of domestic science, technology and innovation is in fact a story of international politics"

BRUMMER, Matthew : Lecturer, GRIPS

DEGREEs: Ph.D. in Arts & Sciences from The University of Tokyo; Matt_1.jpg
Master of International Affairs from Columbia University

EXPERTISE: The relationship between International Relations and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy; Japanese Foreign Policy and Science Diplomacy.


Why does international politics matter for domestic S&T?

Q: Your research is unique. Can you tell us about it and how you started it?

A: There is an enduring historical riddle in S&T studies that goes like this: Throughout recorded human history, no society has failed to innovate technologically. Yet, some achieve advance far faster and with far greater impact. At the same time, throughout recorded human history, all societies have resisted innovation. And yet, some are far more successful than others in this endeavor. Why?

Traditionally, answers to this riddle have come from the discipline of economics and its subfields, and to a lesser extent, sociology. Political science, and especially the subfield of International Relations, has not paid much attention to this historical riddle, despite the fact that science, technology, and innovation are vital components to state power, international organizations, and national identity. So what my research aims to do is to look at this riddle of S&T from a political science perspective, and in particular, from an international politics perspective.

I ask, what is the relationship between international security and domestic S&T?

Q: And what have you found?

A: I have found that there is a positive and significant relationship between international security variables, like threats and alliances, and domestic S&T indicators, like R&D and patenting. In particular, states with higher external threat environments tend to innovate more rapidly and with higher quality than those with lower external threat environments. This is because external threats consolidates the interests of a nation toward compromise on decisions and debates surrounding S&T.

Strategic alliances, too, affect domestic science, technology, and innovation. For example, a security alliance with the US is extremely beneficial to domestic S&T. This is primarily due to the important networks of knowledge and resources that are shared between allies, but not between rivals.

So what my research has thus far done is to "prove" that international politics matters to domestic S&T. But there remain many unanswered questions as to why this is and how this happens. I am eager to work with faculty and students in answering these questions!

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