Breznitz wins national book award

The American Political Science Association has awarded Assistant Professor Dan Breznitz the 2008 Don K. Price Award for Best Book in Science and Technology Politics for his book, 'Innovation and the State: Political Choice and Strategies for Growth in Israel, Taiwan and Ireland.'

Breznitz, who holds a joint appointment in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and the School of Public Policy in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, explored the three emerging economies through 482 interviews and numerous site visits, encompassing five years of research.

The book examines how Ireland, Israel and Taiwan have each carved out a niche for their information technology (IT) industries by investigating the different business models from each and from those used by countries with already established technology industries. Specific actions by the state contributed to these countries-not previously known for incubating high-technology industry-and shaped the economies into technology powerhouses.

"The research started when I was still at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology]," he said. "What brought me to this research is my experience as a software entrepreneur during the rapid change of the Israeli economy in the early 1990s. When I was growing up in Israel, it was a nice, quasi-socialist country-not an economic star by any means."

Breznitz says that by the mid-1970s-side by side with the currency being devalued and changed twice and an annual inflation of about 1,000 percent-a shift occurred on the policy level within the Israeli government. "Within a few years after the worst economic crisis in its history, technology and software companies were opening. It was almost an overnight sensation, transformation the country into an outpost of Silicon Valley-an amazing economic revolution."

In looking into what caused the turnaround, Breznitz said he noticed most of the business success started with policy changes. "To understand what was happening, I needed to look around at other economies." He started by examining Taiwan and Ireland, both of which also were achieving explosive success in the IT sector.

In 'Innovation and the State,' Breznitz not only explores the actions of the three states, but also suggests avenues and tactics others could take with state-orchestrated information technology innovation in the now-global economy.

"More established economies could learn some things," Breznitz said. "First, by understanding what these small states have done, they could use opportunities created by the global changes of the IT industry and its fragmentation into discrete stages of development and production.

Secondly, the study shows what capabilities are needed to excel on each specific stage." If, for example, the United States can understand what is happening in these economies, Breznitz says, then it could be understood what jobs can be created and what ground is being lost in the global IT marketplace. "How can the U.S. use this global system to sustain its advantage?"

'Innovation and the State' was published last year. Anywhere from 40 to 80 books are considered for the Don K. Price Award with an anonymous nomination process.

"I'm happy with the result [of the book]," Breznitz said. "This award truly is a complete surprise. And I see it as another proof that Georgia Tech's unique model of interdisciplinary social-science and engineering is now impacting the disciplines themselves. Without the support I received here to conduct such research on science, technology, international affairs and public policy, [the study] would not have been possible."

Currently Breznitz is continuing his research on how innovation translates-or not-to economic growth in different regions around the world. His next book details his research into China, analyzing its industrial innovational capacities and their implications for the United States.

Selected as a Sloan Industry Studies Fellow last year, Breznitz is the director of the Globalization, Innovation and Development program at the Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy (CISTP), a research affiliate of the Industrial Performance Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a senior researcher at the Georgia Tech Program in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) at the Enterprise Innovation Institute.

Breznitz will sign his book and talk about his current research at 7 p.m., Oct. 9, at the Georgia Tech Bookstore.