Towards a Multipurpose Technology Policy: 
The ICT and Environmental Clusters as a Means to Construct a Technology-Driven Society (MONI)

Group leader: Dr. Marja Häyrinen-Alestalo
Research team: Dr. Marja Häyrinen-Alestalo and MSocSc Antti Pelkonen

Part of the research program ProACT funded by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the  National Technology Agency (Tekes)


Current technology policy tends to reflect on discussions of the new growth theory, networked society and the new economy. Concomitantly the goals of technology policy have become broader but not necessary more diversified. Even though governments and representatives of industry regard new technologies as being able to penetrate all areas of human life, the dimensions of welfare and the principles of sustainable growth are mainly related to economic competitiveness and the expansion of markets. According to the theory of the new economy, the ICT-cluster is different from its market forces logic and therefore also useful for the promotion of a multipurpose society. Rising applications of biotechnology are also supposed to function toward similar ends. At a time when the ICT-cluster is no more able to fulfil all economic promises and there are growing requests for public concern, the basic tenets of the new economy have to be scrutinized.

In this research an attempt is made to analyse the theoretical premises of a multipurpose technology policy and the goals and means for its promotion. The empirical focus is on the European Union and Finland, on new technologies and environmental issues. Both technology clusters are examples of broad political goals that cross several sub-politics and aim at the promotion of the common good. The market-driven globalisation of the ICT-cluster and the global international agreement-driven environment cluster provide evidence of the means to pursue a multipurpose technology policy. Key questions deal with the issues concerning the direction and amount of public choices, the division of labour between the state, municipalities and industry and the opening of the horizontal modes of action toward citizen discussion. Local strategies of growth resulting at the concentration of the centres of competences, will also be explored. The research team is a partner in two international projects on the new economy, new technologies and the horizontal modes of action.

This is a project by the Research Group for Comparative Sociology, at the Department of Sociology, University of Helsinki and it comprises both national and international analyses. Aside from the European Union, the focus is on the viewpoints of Finnish technology governance, political decision-makers, major relevant industries, labour market unions and the citizens. The data will be composed of documents and personal interviews.

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Updated 6.3.2002