Readers of Futuribles are kept abreast of the current debates about the policy (or lack of it) with regard to research and development in France, in part because of the amount of space we have devoted to this matter in the journal.
We publish here the point of view of an eminent researcher, Pierre Piganiol, who was the first head of the Délégation générale à la recherche scientifique et technique (DGRST) which, following the famous meeting in Caen (1956), was the first body to implement the R&D policy of the Gaullist era - which it did, moreover, in magisterial fashion.
Pierre Piganiol expresses his amazement that the alarm calls about the inadequacy of French research efforts have not apparently been either heard or understood. He then reminds us of the ultimate purpose of research (and the various types of research) and the major role that the state should play in co-ordinating efforts, not only with regard to the research that it finances but also to privately funded research.
He stresses that this role of orchestrating research means putting considerable effort into foresight in order to make choices, as far as possible, in the light of the country's future needs. He says here, pithily, what others in the debate put more pompously in terms of the tensions between technology push and social needs (or bottom-up approach).
Finally, Pierre Piganiol offers some judicious thoughts as to the ways that this research policy might ideally be conducted.
Those who have worked with him will not be surprised that he lays so much emphasis on the need to make a "reasoned analysis of the present state of knowledge and research", of what he calls the "scientific climate" (conjoncture scientifique). It is indeed strange that, despite his best efforts, nothing of the sort has ever been implemented...
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