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Toward a Framework for National Goals and Policy Research: Notes on Social Indicators

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1 Author(s)

Quantitative information and factual indicators are essential for informed decision-making, and science and technology policy-making is no exception. However, there are no social indicators as there are economic indicators. Direct measures which relate to technological accomplishments are almost impossible to obtain. Analogies and anecdotes are the arguments used for programs proposed in problem areas rather than specific measures or specific indicators which permit the evaluation of the effectiveness of the program. In addition to the lack of quantitative data, there are economic and institutional practices and regulations on an international, or state and local level that often act as powerful nontechnical barriers to technological enhancement and change. These include state highway regulations, state building codes, tax rates and structures, the patent system, restrictive application of anti-trust and trade regulation, absence of and inadequacy of nonperformance based standards, and subsidies and tariffs. The methods of scientific investigation and the social engineering called systems analysis which have been primarily successful in the solution of military and space problems have important roles to play in this area. They can provide the framework for the determination of the particular types of qualitative information needed to measure the nation's social health.

Published in:

Systems, Man and Cybernetics, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:SMC-2 ,  Issue: 5 )

Date of Publication:

Nov. 1972

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