Biases in decision-making can lead to bad choices in innovation policy, says Jan Schnellenbach.
In the mid-1990s, in the aftermath of German reunification, the state of Brandenburg suffered from high unemployment caused by severe structural adjustments. In response, policymakers supported innovative, even disruptive, projects in the hope of creating jobs.
One such project was proposed by CargoLifter AG. This company had been founded to produce very large airships, designed to carry heavy and bulky cargo. The technological concept appeared to be fundamentally plausible, but there were plenty of difficulties to be solved before the airships would be market-ready.