Air, Space and Techno-Scientific Innovation in Italian Foreign Policy During the 1970s and 1980s
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In the 1970s and 1980s, the growing complexity of technology and science in aerospace and the increasing costs of research and development obliged nations to cooperate in an environment of ever increasing global competition. Italy participated in several bilateral projects, first of all with the US firms Boeing and McDonnell Douglas, which had the best technology at the best price at the time. The Italian government and private and state firms Fiat and Aeritalia with Finmeccanica were trying to take advantage of an increased role thanks to such cooperation. This was the sense of Italian policy for techno-scientific cooperation with France and the Federal Republic of Germany, and with the USA. Faced with a failed European Economic Community technology policy, Italy entered into a relationship with the USA in order to come out strengthened, and to then proceed alone towards other international cooperation. Italian politicians and experts/advisors succeeded by entering into the international aircraft market and by being the third contributor to the European Space Agency. This ‘success story’ is approached by defining the role of experts/advisors on one hand, and stakeholders on the other. Politicians may depend on technicians to such an extent that they imagine that political stakeholders or representatives choose only one of a series of options pre-selected by experts. Politicians consequently risk appearing to be entrapped by experts/advisors. Defining this interplay allows us to examine the political responsibility of a national establishment as regards successful innovation and development or, alternatively, their failure to achieve this.