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The paradox of high R&D input and low innovation output: Sweden


  • Bitard, Pierre

    () (LTH, Lund University)

  • Edquist, Charles

    () (CIRCLE, Lund University)

  • Hommen, Leif

    (CIRCLE, Lund University)

  • Rickne, Annika

    () (CIRCLE, Lund University and Dahmen institutet)


This chapter takes its point of departure in the so-called Swedish paradox, according to which the Swedish NSI is plagued by low pay-off in relation to very high investments in R&D and innovation efforts. Using new data, we show that this paradox is still in operation, i.e. the productivity or efficiency of the Swedish NSI remains low. We also specify the paradox in several respects. By focussing upon nine activities in the NSI, we attempt to explain why and how the paradox operates. The paradox is also related to the moderate growth of labour productivity in Sweden. Further, we show that the paradox is linked to globalization: internationalization of production by Swedish firms has proceeded further than the internationalization of R&D. On the basis of this analysis, we identify strengths and weaknesses of the Swedish NSI – many of which are related to the Swedish paradox. We take account of the history of innovation policy in Sweden and – on the basis of the analysis as a whole -- we identify future policy initiatives that might help to mitigate the Swedish paradox.

Suggested Citation

  • Bitard, Pierre & Edquist, Charles & Hommen, Leif & Rickne, Annika, 2008. "The paradox of high R&D input and low innovation output: Sweden," Papers in Innovation Studies 2008/14, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:lucirc:2008_014

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    Cited by:

    1. Olof Ejermo, 2011. "Locked into the ivory tower? Mobility and entrepreneurship among Swedish academics," ERSA conference papers ersa10p1413, European Regional Science Association.
    2. Arne Isaksen & Magnus Nilsson, 2013. "Combined Innovation Policy: Linking Scientific and Practical Knowledge in Innovation Systems," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(12), pages 1919-1936, December.
    3. Rouchy, Philippe, 2011. "Swedish embedded software and vertically integrated industries: an appraisal," MPRA Paper 50504, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Sam Tavassoli, 2011. "A Comparative Investigation of Firms' Innovative behaviors During Different Stages of the Cluster Life-Cycle (Cover study for PhD dissertation)," ERSA conference papers ersa10p1045, European Regional Science Association.

    More about this item


    Innovation; innovation system; Swedish national system of innovation; Swedish paradox;

    JEL classification:

    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General


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