Technological innovation, often rapid and unexpected, shapes power geometries across Western democracies. This is increasingly apparent between the U.S. and Western Europe, as the concurrent war and economic downturn have exposed differences in their respective capacities around computing, defense, climate, and genomics, among other disciplines.
In Western Europe, extraordinary resources have been expended on innovation in the last two decades, yet with lukewarm results and well below global benchmarks. This result is sometimes described as “innovation theatre.” In this same span, private enterprise in the U.S. has yielded technology-driven firms with market capitalizations exceeding the listed technology sectors of modern Western European nations (ex. Nasdaq Stockholm). This explosion of innovation lies within expert networks formed in U.S. metropolitan regions, via universities and private enterprise, that have attracted, filtered, and organized a global talent pool.
A global talent pool mediated through competitive institutions will yield a more robust expert network than that drawn from within a small Western European city, focused on local institutions. In the pre-War era, this pool in the U.S. came from across Europe, often forming part of the entrepreneurial class. In recent decades, they constitute the top science & engineering graduates from universities in developing countries. The first institutional mediators are the research universities, both public (ex. Berkeley), and private (ex. Stanford). The second set of mediators are the investment (venture capital) funds, small technology enterprises (startups), and multinationals.
These networks have yielded innovation-based enterprises that define their disciplines. Over half of the billion-dollar startups in Silicon Valley were founded by members of this global pool, not originating from the U.S., yet filtered into U.S. expert networks. This proportion rises to two-thirds, when the offspring of this talent base are included. It may be difficult for any region to develop technological power without a robust, global expert network as its foundation.
Policy instrument choice under globalization: Do authoritarian states choose differently? Do authoritarian states differ from non-authoritarian ones in their social policy choices? The paper presents new data on out-of-home childcare policies in 15 ex-Soviet countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Out-of-home childcare refers to care services for children without parental care and families at risk of separation. Specifically, I focus on the policy of childcare deinstitutionalization (DI), aimed at ensuring that every child grows up in a family environment rather than orphanages or similar institutions.
The data show that authoritarian states in the ex-Soviet region do not differ from non-authoritarian governments in their choice of non-coercive instruments for childcare deinstitutionalization. I find signiﬁcant convergence among 15 states in the adoption of DI policy ‘ends’ and ‘means’, despite drastic differences in political regimes. Countries see issues of children deprived of parental care from a DI perspective, proclaim similar DI policy objectives, for which they use similar DI policy instruments.
Theoretically, I bring together scholarship treating policy choice as a cultural and a political issue and test their key propositions. The data support the predictions of world society theory, which explains widespread assimilation of national policies through the pervasive inﬂuence of world culture and a key role of international organizations in promoting ‘modern’ policy models. Importantly, authoritarian governments do not just proclaim DI policy but introduce internationally-approved instruments, which involve signiﬁcant reform of social care provision and enable actors to better defend their social rights.