In Defence of the Linear Model: An Essay
This paper has been prompted by an increasing sense of dissatisfaction with the current fashion of criticising the so-called “Linear Model” of innovation. LM). The frequency and hostility of remarks against the linear model raises the suspicion that something is wrong indeed. Why so much hostility to a concept that is unanimously recognised to be false and discredited? Is it only a (repetitive and abused) rhetorical device? Or does the LM still maintain a credibility in scientific research and policy-making that makes it useful or even necessary to constantly remind its deep shortcomings? If this is the case, why is it that despite all the evidence, the LM continues to be so influential in the policy debate? The sense of uneasiness and dissatisfaction is compounded by the recognition that it is quite hard to find in the critical literature a precise definition of the so called linear model. To a considerable extent, the LM is just a straw man around which a set of arguments is constructed concerning the process of technological innovation and the implied policy prescriptions. In this paper, we seek to probe the deep reasons of our dissatisfaction with undisciplined critiques to the “infamous” linear model and to clarify what are the main and most relevant problems that indeed the LM suffers from. Moreover, we ask whether at least some features of the linear model retain some interpretative and normative validity and if a complete and outright rejection of the LM would amount to throw the baby away with the dirty water
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