Christopher Freeman (September 11, 1921 – August 16, 2010) was an English economist, the founder and first director of Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Sussex, and one of the most eminent researchers in innovation studies, modern Kondratiev wave and business cycle theorists. Freeman contributed substantially to the revival of the neo-Schumpeterian tradition focusing on the crucial role of innovation for economic development and of scientific and technological activities for well-being.
Freeman was the founder and the first Director, from 1966 to 1982 of SPRU, the Science Policy Research Unit of the University of Sussex, England, and RM Phillips Professor of Science Policy and later Professor emeritus of at the University of Sussex. His fields of specialization were the economics of innovation and technical change, science and technology indicators, the diffusion of technologies, structural change in the world economy, and the "catch-up" efforts of developing countries. In 1986, on his formal retirement, he became visiting professor at the Aalborg University in Denmark and professorial fellow at the now Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
Besides his intellectual contributions in the economics of innovation and systems of innovation, Christopher Freeman was 'an academic entrepreneur'. Among the innovations for which he was responsible was 'The Frascati Manual', an OECD venture meant to collect and standardize the statistics on R&D, and the subsequent stream of work science and technology indicators at OECD and around the world. Secondly, he set up, shaped and for many years directed the Science Policy Research Unit, SPRU, which during the 1970s and 1980s was the pioneering institution in the field. Thirdly, with colleagues at SPRU, in the United States, in France and in Germany, he founded and edited for over 30 years the journal 'Research Policy', establishing it as the leading journal in the field.
He mentored several generations of economists and social scientists working on technical change, innovation and the knowledge society. Among them, Keith Pavitt, Luc Soete, Carlota Perez, Mary Kaldor, B.-Å. Lundvall, Igor Yegorov, Daniele Archibugi, Giovanni Dosi and Jan Fagerberg. His intellectual legacy has extended to almost every continent through SPRU graduates, some of whom have applied his thinking to the role of innovation in development in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Programs that have their origins in his work can be traced at leading public policy institutions such as the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School.
Awards and honors
Freeman held several honorary doctorates including those from the Universities of Linköping, Sweden; Sussex, Middlesex, Birmingham, and Brighton. He received the 1987 Bernal Prize, the 1988 Schumpeter Prize, the 1993 Prix International du Futuroscope, and the 2001 World Technology Award for Policy. In 2007 he was awarded with the Silver Kondratieff Medal by the International N. D. Kondratieff Foundation and the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RAEN). The Freeman Centre building in Brighton, home to CENTRIM and SPRU, is named after him.
- Developing science, technology and innovation indicators: What we can learn from the past, Research Policy, 2009, vol. 38, issue 4, pages 583-589 (with Luc L. Soete), doi:10.1016/j.respol.2009.01.018
- Systems of Innovation: Selected Essays in Evolutionary Economics, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, 2008.
- As Time Goes By: From the Industrial Revolutions to the Information Revolution (co-author with Francisco Louça), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001.
- The Economics of Industrial Innovation, 3rd edn. (co-author with Luc Soete), Pinter, London, 1997.
- Work for All or Mass Unemployment?: Computerised Technical Change in the Twenty-First Century, (co-author with Luc Soete), Pinter Pub Ltd, 1994.
- The Economics of Hope: Essays on Technical Change, Economic Growth, and the Environment, Pinter Pub Ltd, 1992.
- Technology Policy and Economic Performance: Lessons from Japan, Pinter Pub Ltd, 1987.
- Unemployment and Technical Innovation: A Study of Long Waves and Economic Development, (co-author with John Clark and Luc Soete), Greenwood Press, 1982.
- "Christopher Freeman". The Daily Telegraph (London). 7 September 2010.
- Kaldor, Mary (8 September 2010). "Christopher Freeman obituary". Guardian (London).
- The International N. D. Kondratieff Foundation
- 'Bernal and the Social Function of Science' Freeview video by Chris Freeman and the Vega Science Trust
- 'Remembering Chris Freeman'