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R&D Policy Instruments: A Critical Review of What We Do & Don't Know

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  • Ben R. Martin

Abstract

In recent years, the term 'policy instrument' has been used more frequently with regard to R&D policy and innovation policy. What does this term mean? Where did it come from? What do we know about it, both with regard to the general field of policy studies but also in the specific context of R&D policy? This article examines the development of the notion of policy instruments as part of a body of research known as 'policy design'. Over the last 50 years, there has been substantial progress in setting policy design on a more systematic basis, with the development of established concepts and analytical frameworks, including various taxonomies of policy instruments. However, with just a few exceptions, this body of research seems to have had little impact in the world of R&D policy. The paper reviews the literature on R&D policy instruments. It identifies a number of challenges for R&D policy instruments in the light of four transitions – the shift from linear to systemic thinking about R&D and innovation, the shift from national governments to multi-level governance, the shift from individual actors to collaborations and networks, and the shift from individual policies to policy mixes. It sets out a research agenda for the study of R&D policy instruments, before ending with a number of conclusions.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben R. Martin, 2015. "R&D Policy Instruments: A Critical Review of What We Do & Don't Know," Working Papers wp476, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp476
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    Keywords

    Policy instruments; R&D policy; policy design; policy mix;

    JEL classification:

    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination

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