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In defence of the linear model: An essay

  • Balconi, Margherita
  • Brusoni, Stefano
  • Orsenigo, Luigi

This essay discusses the strength and weaknesses of the so-called linear model (LM) of innovation. It is a reaction to the habit of criticising it as over simplistic, mechanistic, or simply blatantly wrong. We argue that, while some criticisms are of course well grounded, many others are instead based on loose interpretations and unwarranted assumptions. In order to separate the wheat from the chaff, this essay first presents a comprehensive description of the linear model and differentiates it from the caricature many refer to. Second, we discuss the main criticisms put forward and argue that many of them are not at all destructive, but can be easily accepted within a refined version of the LM. Third, we discuss the policy implications often derived (or said to derive) from the LM to argue that the LM itself is distinctively policy-neutral. Other assumptions have to be added to justify alternative policy implications.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.

Volume (Year): 39 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 1-13

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Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:39:y:2010:i:1:p:1-13
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  1. David, Paul A. & Hall, Bronwyn H., 2006. "Property and the pursuit of knowledge: IPR issues affecting scientific research," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 767-771, July.
  2. Giovanni Dosi & Luigi Orsenigo & Mauro Sylos Labini, 2002. "Technology and the Economy," LEM Papers Series 2002/18, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  3. Henry Grabowski & John Vernon, 2000. "The determinants of pharmaceutical research and development expenditures," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 201-215.
  4. Bonaccorsi, Andrea & Thoma, Grid, 2007. "Institutional complementarity and inventive performance in nano science and technology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 813-831, July.
  5. Richard R. Nelson, 2003. "The Market Economy, and the Scientific Commons," LEM Papers Series 2003/24, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  6. Mazzoleni, Roberto & Nelson, Richard R., 1998. "The benefits and costs of strong patent protection: a contribution to the current debate," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 273-284, July.
  7. Pavitt, Keith, 1984. "Sectoral patterns of technical change: Towards a taxonomy and a theory," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 343-373, December.
  8. Mansfield, Edwin, 1991. "Academic research and industrial innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 1-12, February.
  9. Dosi, Giovanni, 1988. "Sources, Procedures, and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 1120-71, September.
  10. Balconi, Margherita & Laboranti, Andrea, 2006. "University-industry interactions in applied research: The case of microelectronics," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 1616-1630, December.
  11. Rosenberg, Nathan & Nelson, Richard R., 1994. "American universities and technical advance in industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 323-348, May.
  12. Richard R. Nelson, 1959. "The Simple Economics of Basic Scientific Research," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 67, pages 297.
  13. Dosi, Giovanni, 1993. "Technological paradigms and technological trajectories : A suggested interpretation of the determinants and directions of technical change," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 102-103, April.
  14. Luthje, Christian & Herstatt, Cornelius & von Hippel, Eric, 2005. "User-innovators and "local" information: The case of mountain biking," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 951-965, August.
  15. Richard Nelson, 1962. "The Link Between Science and Invention: The Case of the Transistor," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 549-584 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Dosi, Giovanni & Llerena, Patrick & Labini, Mauro Sylos, 2006. "The relationships between science, technologies and their industrial exploitation: An illustration through the myths and realities of the so-called `European Paradox'," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 1450-1464, December.
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