Growth and limits to growth

Week 6

Learning objectives:

  • Describe the concept of growth linked to R&D of technology
  • Understand the Glassco framework
  • characterize Canadian government policy through five stages of the application of the Glassco framework  (Diefenbaker to Harper)
  • Prepare to present toolkit and select topic for second assignment

Preparing to present your toolkit and its applications


This week marks the effective mid-point of the course.  We have completed the first half of Smardon, in which he lays out the problems confronting Canadian policy for science and technology, as a consequence of its economic evolution since the Second World War.  The role of Canada’s close relationship with the US, and the social ties its capitalist and managerial classes have to their American counterparts have been hinted at as causal factors. As we move on to the second half of Smardon’s book, he provides a more detailed explanation of the policy environment over this same period – 1960-2000 – during which successive governments tried to adjust R&D policy to achieve specific policy objectives.

We will continue our two-track approach: first, understanding the policy landscape and changes that Smardon lays out; second, exploring specific issues with the policy toolkits and checklists that you have developed in the first half of the course.

In week 6 (unsupervised) you will prepare your first assignment, and select a subject for your second assignment. The first assignment is to present your toolkit and checklist: how will you assess government policies?  This assignment is the same for all students, and consists of:

  • a two page briefing note explaining your toolkit and checklist;
  • a five-slide powerpoint deck supporting your approach; and
  • a ten minute (maximum) pitch.

You will present this in week 7 (20 October).

You will also use week 6 to map out your application of your personal toolkit and checklist to one of the other policy areas or objectives indicated in the course outline:

  • growth (e.g. expanding GDP consistently within resource constraints)
  • ingenuity (e.g. creation of new energy solutions)
  • public interest (e.g. Public private partnerships in technology development)
  • decision making (e.g. adjusting decision making processes to serve the public interest)
  • Science and technology policy (e.g. fixing the problems identified by Smardon)
  • Equity (e.g. ensuring that government policy results in a fair distribution of costs and benefits)

We will adjust weeks 7-12 in order to integrate student presentations into the course material, usually on Tuesdays.

Now consider Growth. When is growth good for society, and how do we understand its costs and benefits?  How do we measure growth, and how does it relate to normative ideas about distribution?

One important aspect of Part Two in Smardon is the Glassco framework, and the way in which it was employed by those who saw a role for the state in sponsoring growth through research and development of technology.

Required reading

Skim part two’s historical walk through the permutations of the Glassco framework, chapters 5 to 9, with particular attention to the introduction and conclusion of each chapter. Prepare a table summarizing key state-led policies from Diefenbaker to Harper, based on timeline and regime.

  • Chapter 5 – Diefenbaker
  • Chapter 6 – left-liberals
  • Chapter 7 – Herb Gray
  • Chapter 8 – restructuring and social forces
  • Chapter 9 – extending the Glassco framework

Optional reading

Skim forward and branch out to consider the ways in which you might apply your toolkit and checklist to the problems listed above.


Complete preparations for presentation of your toolkit and checklist briefing in week 7. Be prepared to provide a 60s summary of your second assignment in week 7.

Self assessment questions

  • How does Smardon’s part two relate to the first part of the book?
  • What is the Glassco framework?
  • What are the main policies that were applied over time within the broad rubric of the Glassco framework?
  • what explains the longevity or continuity of the Glassco framework?
  • Which of the four explanations of technological development (


There is no seminar this week. Please contact me by email if you have questions or need assistance with the two assignments.  Only assignment one is due in week 7. The others will be due on agreed dates between weeks 8 and 12.