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Striving Towards a Holistic Innovation Policy in European Countries - But Linearity Still Prevails!


  • Edquist , Charles

    (CIRCLE, Lund University)


The concept of a holistic innovation policy is defined in this article, with discussions of what it is, why it is relevant, and how it can be implemented to enhance product innovation. It is shown that the innovation systems approach has diffused rapidly during the latest decades and has completely replaced the linear view in the field of innovation research. The majority of European countries are striving in the direction of developing a more holistic innovation policy. However, it is concluded that the innovation policies in European countries are still dominantly linear despite the fact that holistic policy seems to be the driving vision. Innovation policy is behindhand. Why innovation policy is still linear is also preliminarily discussed. Policymakers attending conferences on innovation are practically always in favor of holistic (systemic, broad-based, comprehensive, etc) innovation policies, have abandoned the linear view by learning from innovation research. The division between “linear” and “holistic” seems to be located within the community where innovation policies are designed and implemented, a community composed of policymakers (administrators/bureaucrats) and elected politicians. Perhaps the dividing line is between these two groups in that politicians, who actually make the decisions, may still reflexively believe in the linear view. Nevertheless, there seems to be a failure in communication between researchers and politicians in the field of innovation and there is therefore a strong need to involve innovation researchers in policy design and implementation to a much higher degree. Another way to increase the degree of holism could be to separate innovation policy from research policy, since their integration tends to cement the linear character of innovation policy. The empirical results are based on a questionnaire sent to twenty-three EU Member States, out of which nineteen (83%) responded. Part of the work for this article was carried out for the European Research and Innovation Area Committee (ERAC) of the European Commission (DG RTD).

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  • Edquist , Charles, 2014. "Striving Towards a Holistic Innovation Policy in European Countries - But Linearity Still Prevails!," Papers in Innovation Studies 2014/22, Lund University, CIRCLE - Centre for Innovation Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:lucirc:2014_022

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cooke, Philip & Gomez Uranga, Mikel & Etxebarria, Goio, 1997. "Regional innovation systems: Institutional and organisational dimensions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4-5), pages 475-491, December.
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    3. Cooke, Philip, 2001. "Regional Innovation Systems, Clusters, and the Knowledge Economy," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press and the Associazione ICC, vol. 10(4), pages 945-974, December.
    4. Nobes, Christopher, 2014. "Accounting: A Very Short Introduction," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199684311, Decembrie.
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    Cited by:

    1. Zabala-Iturriagagoitia, Jon Mikel & Aparicio, Juan & Ortiz, Lidia & Carayannis, Elias G. & Grigoroudis, Evangelos, 2021. "The productivity of national innovation systems in Europe: Catching up or falling behind?," Technovation, Elsevier, vol. 102(C).
    2. Bengtsson, Lars & Edquist, Charles, 2020. "Towards a holistic user innovation policy," Papers in Innovation Studies 2020/11, Lund University, CIRCLE - Centre for Innovation Research.
    3. Edquist, Charles & Laatsit, Mart, 2022. "From the Systems of Innovation Approach to a General Theory of Innovation: Do Activities and Functions Reflect what Happens in Innovation Systems?," Papers in Innovation Studies 2022/7, Lund University, CIRCLE - Centre for Innovation Research.
    4. Lejla TERZIĆ, 2023. "The green and digital transition through innovation, SME competitiveness, and economic resilience: Evidence from the European Union economies," Theoretical and Applied Economics, Asociatia Generala a Economistilor din Romania - AGER, vol. 0(2(635), S), pages 43-62, Summer.
    5. Santos, Antonio Bob & Mendonca, Sandro, 2016. "A Delphi Approach to Boost an Open Innovation Policy," MPRA Paper 73007, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Jerker Moodysson & Michaela Trippl & Elena Zukauskaite, 2017. "Policy learning and smart specialization: balancing policy change and continuity for new regional industrial paths," Science and Public Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 382-391.
    7. Acciai, Claudia, 2021. "The politics of research and innovation: Understanding instrument choices in complex governance environments – the case of France and Italy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(9).
    8. Diercks, Gijs & Larsen, Henrik & Steward, Fred, 2019. "Transformative innovation policy: Addressing variety in an emerging policy paradigm," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 880-894.
    9. Serenella Caravella & Francesco Crespi, 2021. "The role of public procurement as innovation lever: evidence from Italian manufacturing firms," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(7), pages 663-684, October.
    10. Edquist , Charles & Zabala-Iturriagagoitia , Jon Mikel, 2015. "The Innovation Union Scoreboard is Flawed: The case of Sweden – not being the innovation leader of the EU," Papers in Innovation Studies 2015/16, Lund University, CIRCLE - Centre for Innovation Research.
    11. Verónica Robert & Gabriel Yoguel, 2022. "Exploration of trending concepts in innovation policy," Review of Evolutionary Political Economy, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 259-292, July.
    12. Moodysson , Jerker & Trippl, Michaela & Zukauskaite, Elena, 2015. "Policy Learning and Smart Specialization Balancing Policy Change and Policy Stability for New Regional Industrial Path Development," Papers in Innovation Studies 2015/39, Lund University, CIRCLE - Centre for Innovation Research.
    13. Porto-Gomez, Igone & Zabala-Iturriagagoitia, Jon Mikel & Leydesdorff, Loet, 2019. "Innovation systems in México: A matter of missing synergies," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 148(C).

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    More about this item


    Innovation; innovation policy; holistic innovation policy; research policy; the linear view; systems of innovation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L38 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Public Policy
    • M38 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • O25 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Industrial Policy
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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