The Innovation Union in Europe

The Innovation Union in Europe

A Socio-Economic Perspective on EU Integration

Science, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship series

Edited by Elias G. Carayannis and George M. Korres

One of the most important economic events in recent decades has been the ongoing process of European integration. This book provides a basic yet rigorous understanding of the current issues and problems of economic integration and innovation in Europe, and argues that national or regional economic development depends mainly on technical change, social and human capital, and knowledge creation and diffusion. This is clearly evident in the role of the quadruple innovation helix of government, university, industry and civil society.

Chapter 5: European innovation policies from RIS to smart specialization: a policy assemblage perspective

Arnoud Lagendijk and Krisztina Varró

Subjects: business and management, organisational innovation, economics and finance, economics of innovation, innovation and technology, economics of innovation, innovation policy, organisational innovation


Policy initiatives such as regional innovation strategies are strategically and selectively infused by rationales and imaginaries that resonate with major political and societal shifts. A core example is how the transition from spatial Keynesianism to neoliberal thinking has been accompanied by a discourse of the ‘knowledge-based economy’, overpowering the more socially oriented notion of the ‘information society’. Using the notion of policy assemblage, this chapter advocates a more complex and political reading of the role of rationales and imaginaries. Undertaking an analysis of four decades of regional innovation policy in Europe, we show how a variety of concerns, notably around competitiveness, sustainability and cohesion, have all made their inroads into the substantiation and legitimization of innovation policies. In doing so, we pay attention to the way innovation policies have been shaped by the continuous (re)imagination of European, national and regional spaces in terms of developmental ambitions. The last four decades have witnessed the rise, peak and modification of regional innovation policy. This is especially noteworthy in Europe, where the EU has taken a leading role in the development and proliferation of innovation-oriented policy ideas and practices. The evolution of EU regional innovation policy has been marked by a number of major trends and shifts. Underlying development perspectives have moved from Keynesian to neoliberal approaches; policy perspectives took on board academic notions of learning and the building of institutional capacity; in terms of governance, a direct nexus was created between the EU and the regional level.

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