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The Tower Of Babel? The Innovation System Approach Versus Mainstream Economics

  • Johannes Hers

    (Ministry of Finance, The Hague, The Netherlands)

  • Niek Nahuis

    (Ministry of Finance, The Hague, The Netherlands)

The Innovation systems (IS) approach and the system failures it identifies, play an important role in the design and legitimization of innovation policy. This paper analyses the usefulness of this concept. We conclude that the IS-approach can be useful to visualize the complexity of the innovation processes. However, for policy design this approach is less suited, because system failures aim at symptoms in stead of underlying incentive structures. In our view, policy design should be based on standard economic framework of market- and government failures. Theoretically, an exception is the system failure path dependency. However, the empirical evidence for the existence of this phenomenon is mixed. Furthermore, policy initiatives to tackle path dependence are likely to be subject to severe government failure.

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File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/mhet/papers/0403/0403001.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Method and Hist of Econ Thought with number 0403001.

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Length: 15 pages
Date of creation: 04 Mar 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmh:0403001
Note: Type of Document - pdf; prepared on winXP; pages: 15
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

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  1. Rodolfo E. Manuelli & Ananth Seshadri, 2013. "Frictionless technology diffusion: the case of tractors," Working Papers 2013-022, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  2. Bronwyn H. Hall, 2003. "The Financing of Research and Development," Finance 0303003, EconWPA.
  3. Liebowitz, S J & Margolis, Stephen E, 1995. "Path Dependence, Lock-in, and History," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 205-26, April.
  4. Richard E. Baldwin & Frédéric Robert-Nicoud, 2007. "Entry and asymmetric lobbying: why governments pick losers," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19726, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 2002. "Evolutionary Theorizing in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 23-46, Spring.
  6. Adam B. Jaffe, 2002. "Building Programme Evaluation into the Design of Public Research-Support Programmes," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(1), pages 22-34, Spring.
  7. Liebowitz, S J & Margolis, Stephen E, 1990. "The Fable of the Keys," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 1-25, April.
  8. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-37, May.
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