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  1. Bengt-Åke Lundvall(1992) “National Systems of Innovation. Towards a Theory of Innovation and Interactive Learning ”. London: Pinter Publishers. Chapter 1 / Introduction: by Bengt-Åke Lundvall, 1-19.

  2. Introduction (1) • Theories are selecting “focusing devices” – a too long lasting theoretical hegemony, therefore, may be damaging: • “Theories in the social sciences may be regarded as ‘focusing devices’. Any specific theory brings forward and exposes some aspects of the real world, leaving others in obscurity. That is why a long lasting hegemony of one single theoretical tradition is damaging both in terms of understanding and policy-making” (p. 1)

  3. Introduction (2) • Criticism against the static bias of “neo-classical” economic theory: • “In the field of economics, the dominating neo-classical paradigm puts its analytical focus upon concepts such as scarcity, allocation, and exchange, in a static concept” (p. 1) • One alternative approach: emphasis of interactive learning and innovation • “One aim of this book is to demonstrate the need for an alternative, and supplementary, focusing device which puts interactive learning and innovation at the centre of analysis” (p. 1)

  4. Introduction (3) • Research results from the IKE group at the Aalborg University (with cooperation partners at SPRU/Sussex University, Institute of Foreign Affairs in Oslo, and the University of Paris): • “Through more than a decade, a group of economists at Aalborg University, the IKE group, has worked together studying industrial development and international competitiveness from such a perspective. This book presents results from this work in relation to one specific subject: national systems of innovation” (p. 1)

  5. Introduction (4) • Two key assumptions: • “Our choice of perspective and subject is based upon two sets of assumptions” (p. 1) • Assumption One / Knowledge as key resource and learning as key process – and knowledge differs substantially from other economic resources: • “…it is assumed that the most fundamental resource in the modern economy is knowledge and, accordingly, that the most important process is learning. The fact that knowledge differs in crucial respects from other resources in the economy makes standard economics less relevant” (p. 1)

  6. Introduction (5) • Lundvall quote about the value of knowledge: • “Knowledge does not decrease in value when used. On the contrary, its use increases its value; i.e. knowledge is not scarce in the same sense as other natural resources and technical artefacts. Some elements of knowledge may be transferred, easily, between economic agents while others are tacit and embodies in individual, or collective, agents. Knowledge I not easily transacted in markets and not easily privately appropriated. In spite of attempts to find institutional solutions to the problem (patent laws, etc.) property rights to knowledge are not easily defined. When it comes to knowledge market failure is the rule rather than the exception” (p. 18)

  7. Introduction (6) • Assumption Two / Learning as an interactive and socially embedded process – modern nation states as a necessary prerequisite: • “… it is assumed that learning is predominantly an interactive and, therefore, a socially embedded process which cannot be understood without taking into consideration its institutional and cultural context. Specifically, it is assumed that the historical establishment and development of the modern nation state was a necessary prerequisite for the acceleration of the process of learning” (p. 1)

  8. Introduction (7) • The challenge of internationalization and globalization for the nation state: • “Finally, it is recognised that the traditional role of nation states in supporting learning processes is now challenged by the process of internationalisation and globalisation” (p. 1)

  9. National Systems of Innovation (1): A First Definition (a) • A first definition of a system: • “According to Boulding (1985), the broadest possible definition of a system is ‘anything that is not chaos’” (p. 2) • A more systematic definition of a system: • “Somewhat more specifically, a system is constituted by a number of elements and by the relationships between these elements” (p. 2)

  10. National Systems of Innovation (2): A First Definition (b) • Definition of a system of innovation and a national system of innovation: • “It follows that a system of innovation is constituted by elements and relationships which interact in the • ·production, • ·diffusion • ·and use of • ·new, and economically useful, knowledge • and that a national system encompasses elements and relationships, either located within or rooted inside the borders of a nation state” (p. 2)

  11. National Systems of Innovation (3): A First Definition (c) • National system of innovation is a “social system”: • “… it is obvious that the national system of innovation is a social system. A central activity in the system of innovation is learning, and learning is a social activity, which involves interaction between people” (p. 2) • National system of innovation is also a “dynamic system”: • “It is also a dynamic system, characterised both by positive feedback and by reproduction. Often, the elements of the system of innovation either reinforce each other in promoting processes of learning and innovation or, conversely, combine into const4llations blocking such processes” (p. 2)

  12. National Systems of Innovation (4): A First Definition (d) • National system of innovation “reproduces” knowledge: • “Another important aspect of the innovation system relates to the reproduction of the knowledge of individuals or collective agents (through remembering)” (p. 2)

  13. National Systems of Innovation (5): Nation States and National Systems (a) • The two dimensions of the nation state: “national-cultural” and “étatist-political” • “The concept, national systems of innovation, presumes the existence of nation states and this phenomenon has two dimensions: the national-cultural and the étatist-political. The ideal, abstract, nation state is one where the two dimensions coincide. …It I difficult to find any nation states, in this strict sense, in the real world” (p. 2) • The Scandinavian/Nordic background of many of the book authors: • “Most of the contributors to this book have their roots in a minority of small countries which may be characterised as culturally homogenous and socio-economically coherent systems (Sweden, Denmark and Norway).” (p. 3)

  14. National Systems of Innovation (6): Nation States and National Systems (b) • National system of innovation as an archetype concept, challenged by globalization and regionalization: • “On the other hand, it may be argued, it is quite useful, analytically, to use concepts which are archetypes rather than ‘averages’. In order to bring out sharply the limits and consequences of globalisation and regionalisation, it is useful, at least as a starting point, to assume countries to be homogenous in political and cultural terms” (p. 3)

  15. National Systems of Innovation (7): National Systems, Globalization and Regionalization (a) • Why to focus on national systems in an era of globalization?: • “Readers might ask, why we focus on the national level, in an era where many analysts point to an accelerating process of internationalisation and globalisation, characterised by multinational firms loosening their relations to their home-country and entering into alliances with foreign firms” (p. 3) • The importance and viability of national patterns: • “At the same time, a growing number of social scientists – often inspired by new sets of ideas labeled ‘flexible specialisation’, ‘networking’ and ‘post-Fordism’ – have argued that regional production systems, industrial districts and technological districts are becoming increasingly important. Some authors analyse these two tendencies as interconnected and mutually reinforcing. …that globalisation, and international specialisation have their roots in the strengthening of specialised technological districts and regional networks” (p. 3)

  16. National Systems of Innovation (8): National Systems, Globalization and Regionalization (b) • National systems are weakened by globalization and regionalization: • “Both globalisation and regionalisation might be interpreted as processes which weaken the coherence and importance of national systems” (p. 3)

  17. National Systems of Innovation (9): National Systems, Globalization and Regionalization (c) • Important arguments in favor of still using the concept of national systems of innovation: • Argument One / Communication – also, or even primarily, based upon tacit knowledge – takes place within national patterns: • “… we believe that national systems still play an important role in supporting and directing processes of innovation and learning. The uncertainties involved in innovation and the importance of learning imply that the process calls for a complex communication between the parties involved. This will especially be the case when the knowledge exchanged is tacit and difficult to codify” (p. 3)

  18. National Systems of Innovation (10): National Systems, Globalization and Regionalization (d) • Argument Two / Globalization pushes strongest in science-based and codified knowledge areas: • “On the other hand, it must be recognised that important elements of the process of innovation tend to become transnational and global rather than national – and here the trend will be most important in science-based areas where the communication is easier to formalise and codify. Some of the big corporations are weakening their ties to their home-base country and begin to spread their innovative activities and to ‘source’ different national systems of innovation” (p. 4)

  19. National Systems of Innovation (11): National Systems, Globalization and Regionalization (e) • Nation states in the Western world acted as “engines of growth”: • “Behind the analysis lies also, as mentioned, the hypothesis that the modern nation states in the Western world – not necessarily the new states in the former colonies – have worked as ‘engines of growth’. …Their social institutions and state policies have supported such a transformation [rapid economic transformation] and new institutions aiming directly at economic wealth creation through innovation have been established” (p. 4) • The locality of the national systems of innovation: • “From what has been said, it is obvious that national systems of innovation are open and heterogeneous systems. Processes of innovation transcend national borders and sometimes they are local rather than national. …the international specialisation was often reflected in a regional specialisation within the countries” (p. 4)

  20. National Systems of Innovation (12): Public Policy and National Systems of Innovation (a) • The concept of “national system of innovation” can inspire national and international policies: • “But the concept ‘national systems of innovation’ may also be useful when it comes to inspire public policies at the national and international level” (p. 4) • Argument One / Knowledge and sensitivity for the specific context of government policies: • “… in order to determine what governments should do in order to promote innovation, it is useful to know the specific systemic context in which a national government intervenes” (p. 5)

  21. National Systems of Innovation (13): Public Policy and National Systems of Innovation (b) • Argument Two / Importance to know about differences in national systems of innovation: • “… in the increasingly serious international conflicts about which countries are paying for (the US) and appropriating benefits from (Japan) the investment in science and development of new technology, it is important to understand how different and very diverse national systems work” (p. 5) • Argument Three / Support for cross-country learning: • “… in a world characterised by a radical shift in techno-economic foundations, the ability of national systems to cope, successfully, with change and to exploit new technical opportunities seem to be quite divergent (Freeman and Perez, 1988). Learning from the experience of foreign systems, in this respect, might be facilitated if the working of the respective national systems as a whole are properly understood” (p. 5)

  22. National Systems of Innovation (14): Public Policy and National Systems of Innovation (c) • The entering of NSI-vocabulary into the language of policymakers: a need for a proper analytical development of that concept • “The fact that it has already entered the everyday vocabulary of policy-makers makes it even more important to give the NI-concept an analytical basis” (p. 5)

  23. National Systems of Innovation (15): Performance of National Systems of Innovation (a) • A general definition for relevant performance indicators of national systems of innovation: • “At this general level we would like to propose that the most relevant performance indicators of national systems of innovation should reflect the • ·efficiency and effectiveness in • ·producing, • ·diffusing and • ·exploiting • ·economically useful knowledge. • Such indicators are not well developed today” (p. 6)

  24. National Systems of Innovation (16): Performance of National Systems of Innovation (b) • R&D as one set of NSI indicators: • “One of the classical measures for comparing different national systems is R&D expenditure as a proportion of GDP. There are … obvious problems with this indicator. …R&D expenditure is only one kind of relevant input to the process of innovation – learning in connection with routine activities may be more important than R&D” (p. 6) • A need for diffusion indicators: • “The output measures used are more recently developed and include patents …, the proportion of new products in sales … and the proportion of high-tech products in foreign trade… A common weakness is that these measures do not take into account the diffusion of process technology and in order to get a more complete picture, indicators for diffusion should be taken into account” (p. 6)

  25. National Systems of Innovation (17): Performance of National Systems of Innovation (c) • Governments regard innovation policy as a key element for national economic growth: • “Technical progress is not regarded as a goal in itself. The main reason why national governments engage in innovation policy is the assumption that innovation is a key element in national economic growth” (p. 6) • Economic growth does not directly reflect innovation indicators: • “Different indicators of economic growth (national income or consumption per capita) are relevant when it comes to comparing systems. But such indicators will reflect factors which have little to do with innovation” (p. 6)

  26. National Systems of Innovation (18): Performance of National Systems of Innovation (d) • Different innovations systems can produce similar economic growth: • “One interesting observation is that different systems may develop different modes of innovation while still following parallel growth paths” (p. 6)

  27. National Systems of Innovation (19): The Normative Dimension (a) • Making the value premises of economic analysis explicit: the value proposition of Myrdal • “The choice of performance criteria and of the respective weights to be assigned to them are fundamentally normative decisions. …Myrdal (1968) … argues that as a minimum requirement economists should make explicit their value premises. …When studying the problems of the poor Asian countries, he chooses to accept the set of value premises predominating among the national establishments in the countries studied – the ideal of modernisation” (pp. 6-7) • Should the proposition of Myrdal also be applied to innovation?: • “Given the lack of alternatives, it is tempting to use a similar approach to national systems of innovation” (p. 7)

  28. National Systems of Innovation (20): The Normative Dimension (b) • Three levels of “value” (goal) analysis: • Level One / National level of analysis – goals of economic competitiveness and growth: • “To identify the ambitions and goals of national governments in the area of innovation is, apparently, quite easy. The public discourse is dominated by references to the international competitiveness of the national economy and to the national growth” (p. 7)

  29. National Systems of Innovation (21): The Normative Dimension (c) • Level Two / International level of analysis – goals of strengthening the economy and avoiding conflicts within specific regions: • “Another level of analysis refers to the international organisations of the rich countries such as the European Community and OECD. Politicians and experts at this level are more oriented towards strengthening economic growth in their respective region and towards avoiding international conflicts within the community of countries they represent” (p. 7)

  30. National Systems of Innovation (22): The Normative Dimension (d) • Level Three / Global level of analysis – goals of ecological sustainability and the reduction of extreme social inequality: • “Finally, there is a global level of analysis, with a rather weak representation in organisational terms – the UN organisations, global environmental organisations, etc. At this level, it becomes more obvious to experts and politicians that the long term survival of the global economy is dependent upon ecological sustainability and upon a reduction of the extreme social inequality at the global level” (p. 7)

  31. National Systems of Innovation (23): The Normative Dimension (e) • Each value set of each level (of analysis) has its own, specific legitimation: • “We do not find it proper to adopt the set of value premises of any single one of these three levels, however” (p. 7) • First / There are arguments in favor of national competitiveness: • “On the one hand, we consider national policies and goals, relating to innovativeness and competitiveness to be legitimate, to a certain degree. The pursuit of such goals has been an important motor behind the dramatic increase in economic wealth in the OECD area and in some newly industrialised countries in Asia” (p. 7)

  32. National Systems of Innovation (24): The Normative Dimension (f) • Second / There are also arguments in favor of global sustainability: • “On the other hand, we realise that some of the games related to national science and technology policy may actually be zero-sum games and that there is a growing number of examples of unpleasant trade-offs between short term national economic growth and long term global sustainability (in terms of environment, natural resources, etc.)” (p. 7) • Third / Problem-solving often transcends the nation-state borders: • “The national context tends to become too narrow when it comes to solving problems such as global inequity and sustainability. The value premises of the national establishment must be confronted with these broader and more long term concerns” (p. 7)

  33. Towards a Theory (1): Innovation as a Cumulative Process (a) • For an advanced market economy, innovation is an internal process: • “In modern capitalism, however, innovation is a fundamental and inherent phenomenon; the long term competitiveness of firms, and of national economies, reflect their innovative capability and, moreover, firms must engage in activities which aim at innovation just in order to hold their ground” (p. 8).[1][1]) “In the models of standard economics, innovations appear as extraordinary events, coming from the outside, which temporarily disturb the general equilibrium” (p. 8)

  34. Towards a Theory (2): Innovation as a Cumulative Process (b) • Innovation is a permanent status of modern economy: • “One of our starting points is that innovation is a ubiquitous phenomenon in the modern economy. In practically all parts of the economy, and at all times, we expect to find on-going processes of learning, searching and exploring, which result in new products, new techniques, new forms of organisation and new markets” (p. 8)

  35. Towards a Theory (3): Innovation as a Cumulative Process (c) • Cumulative and radical innovation: • First / Gradual and cumulative innovation: • “The first step in recognising innovation as an ubiquitous phenomenon is to focus upon its gradual and cumulative aspects. …Here Schumpeter’s choice of terminology, where ‘innovations’ and ‘new combinations’ are used as synonyms, is enlightening. Almost all innovations reflect already existing knowledge, combined in new ways” (p. 8) • Second / Radical innovation: • “And, sometimes, the process of innovation results in radical breaks with the past, making a substantial part of accumulated knowledge obsolete. Another of Schumpeter’s concepts, ‘creative destruction’, points to this discontinuity and it might be applied not only to the structure of production, but also to the structure of knowledge” (p. 8)

  36. Towards a Theory (4): Innovation as a Cumulative Process (d) • Emphasis on the cumulative character of innovation: blurred distinctions between invention, innovation and diffusion • “Nevertheless, we will put some emphasis upon the ubiquitous and cumulative character of innovation. In such a perspective the distinction made in innovation theory, between invention, innovation, and diffusion, as three separate stages necessarily becomes blurred” (p. 8) • Innovation is understood as a process: • “We also understand why it is difficult to date invention and innovation in time, and why an innovation does not stay the same throughout its diffusion. Innovation appears now, not primarily as a single event, but rather as a process” (pp. 8-9)

  37. Towards a Theory (5): Innovation as a Cumulative Process (e) • The importance of “collective entrepreneurship” vis-à-vis “individual entrepreneurship”: • “A second starting point is that interactive learning and collective entrepreneurship are fundamental to the process of innovation. …In a sense, through introducing systems of innovation we pursue this trajectory further from individual towards collective entrepreneurship” (p. 9) • Learning is an interactive process: learning sometimes induces innovation • “We will argue that most important forms of learning may fundamentally be regarded as interactive processes, and that together the economic structure and the institutional set-up form the framework for, and strongly affect, processes of interactive learning, sometimes resulting in innovations” (p. 9)

  38. Towards a Theory (6): Learning and the Structure of Production (a) • The interdependence of S&T: the institutional innovation of R&D labs in the context of big firms • “One of the most important institutional innovations in the last century was the establishment of R&D laboratories in the big private firms (Freeman, 1982, …). Scientific activities and technical change … become increasingly interdependent activities” (p. 9) • Not every input into innovation emanates from R&D: • “However, we will insist upon the fact that not all important inputs to the process of innovation emanate from science and R&D efforts. …The everyday experiences of workers, production engineers, and sales representatives influence the agenda determining the direction of innovative efforts, and they produce knowledge and insights forming crucial inputs to the process of innovation” (p. 9)

  39. Towards a Theory (7): Learning and the Structure of Production (b) • Everyday experience impacts technology: learning-by-doing, learning-by-using, and learning-by-interacting • “Everyday experience also increases technical knowledge and gives ideas about in which direction solutions should be looked for. Such activities involve learning-by-doing, increasing the efficiency of production processes (Arrow, 1962), learning-by-using, increasing the efficiency of the use of complex systems (Rosenberg, 1982), and learning-by-interacting, involving users and producers in an interaction resulting in product innovations (Lundvall, 1988)” (p. 9) • Innovation must be based in the structure of a (national) economy: • “If innovation reflects learning, and if learning partially emanates from routine activities, innovation must be rooted in the prevailing economic structure” (p. 9)

  40. Towards a Theory (8): Learning and the Institutional Set-Up (a) • In addition to the “normative dimension”: the institutional set-up defines the second dimension for national systems of innovation • “The institutional set-up (of a specific firm, a constellation of firms, or a nation) is the second important dimension of the system of innovation” (p. 10) • Stability in an uncertain world, represents one of the functions of institutions: • “Institutions make it possible for economic systems to survive and act in an uncertain world. …One of the fundamental characteristics of institutions is their relative stability over time” (p. 10)

  41. Towards a Theory (9): Learning and the Institutional Set-Up (b) • “Technological trajectories” and “paradigms” may be conceptualized as a special sub-set of institutions: • “In this context, we may regard technological trajectories and paradigms, which focus the innovative activities of scientists, engineers, and technicians, as one special kind of institution” (p. 10)

  42. Towards a Theory (10): Product Innovation and User-Producer Interaction (a) • A focus on product innovations and their roots in producer-user relations: • “One way to illustrate … innovation is to focus upon product innovations, and their roots in the interaction between producers and users” (p. 10) • (1) At micro-level the production structure defines user-producer relationships: • “… at the micro level, the structure of production defines sets of user-producer relationships, which condition the scope and direction of the process of innovation” (p. 10)

  43. Towards a Theory (11): Product Innovation and User-Producer Interaction (b) • (2) Institutions reflect characteristics of the innovation process: • “… the institutional form which characterises these relationships – and, especially, the elements of organisation in these markets – reflects the characteristics of the process of innovation” (p. 10) • (3) Institutional set-ups influence innovation: • “… the institutional set-up, once established, will affect the rate and direction of innovation” (p. 10) • (4) User-producer relationships and distances in cultural and geographical space: • “… one interesting dimension of user-producer relationships can be shown to be distance [proximity] in cultural and geographical space” (p. 10)

  44. Towards a Theory (12): Product Innovation and User-Producer Interaction (c) • Production system and the institutional set-up define a system of innovation: • “… we illustrate how the production structure, and the institutional set-up jointly define a system of innovation and at the same time provide an understanding • of the micro-foundation of ‘national systems of innovation’” (p. 10)

  45. Towards a Theory (13): Learning, Searching and Exploring (a) • Searching creates inputs for the system of innovation: conditions, under which organizations search • “Searching is another important activity, creating inputs to the system of innovation. Organisations normally learning only from routine activities of production and distribution might engage in search activities under certain extreme circumstances. When the survival of the organisation is threatened, it members become engaged in what might be called ‘desperate search’” (p.11) • Searching by academic/science-oriented organizations: • “Searching which takes place in academic or science-based organisations, outside the private firms, brings forward another kind of raw material for the process of innovation. We call this kind of search ‘exploring’” (p. 11)

  46. Towards a Theory (14): Learning, Searching and Exploring (b) • “Searching” is more goal-oriented and profit-oriented than “exploring”: • “The most important difference between exploring and searching is that ‘exploring’ is less goal-oriented than profit-oriented search” (p. 11) • The weaker goal-orientation of exploring can produce more radical (less foreseen) outcomes, which may lead to new technological paradigms • “Exploring will, because of its weaker goal-orientation, sometimes result in outcomes, neither foreseen, nor looked for, by profit-oriented organisations. This adds to technological change, a dimension of dynamism and radical change, extremely important in the long run. Exploring will sometimes result in breaks in cumulative paths and create the basis for new technological paradigms” (p. 11)

  47. Towards a Theory (15): Incremental versus Radical Innovations (a) • Distinctions between incremental and radical innovations may be referred to the technical (technological) and economic dimension: • “When distinguishing between incremental and radical innovations, we may refer, primarily, either to the technical or economic dimension” (p. 12) • (1) Incremental technical innovation, major importance for the economy: • “Some innovations, incremental in technical terms, may have a crucial impact upon the economy. This will be true for a small technical change solving a bottleneck problem of strategical importance” (p. 12)

  48. Towards a Theory (16): Incremental versus Radical Innovations (b) • (2) Radical technical innovation, minor importance for the economy: • “On the other hand, an innovation very radical in technical terms, and signalling a new technological paradigm, might be for technical reasons premature and have a very limited impact on the economy” (p. 12) • (3) Radical innovation in one or two dimensions (technical dimension and/or economic dimension): • “It follows that many radical innovations will be radical only in one of the two dimensions while remaining incremental in the other dimension” (p. 12)

  49. Towards a Theory (17): Incremental versus Radical Innovations (c) • Innovation is neither totally independent nor totally determined by the economic structure and the institutional setting – trajectories of technological development will always display a certain degree of randomness: • “For these reasons, we assume that the process of innovation is neither totally accidental nor totally predetermined by the economic structure and the institutional set-up. The analysis of systems of innovation helps us to understand and explain, why technology develops in a certain direction, and at a certain rate, but a strong element of randomness will always remain” (p. 12)

  50. Towards a Theory (18): Defining the NSI – the Role of Theory and History (a) • National systems of innovation can be defined in a “more narrow” or in a “broader” sense: • “From what has been said, it follows that we may make a distinction between a system of innovation in the narrow sense and a system of innovation in the broad sense.” (p. 12) • Narrow definition of NSI: focuses on organizations and institutions • “The narrow definition would include organisations and institutions involved in searching and exploring – such as R&D departments, technological institutes and universities” (p. 12)