A Multidisciplinary Review of the Study of Innovation Systems
New Horizons in the Economics of Innovation series
Edited by Steven Casper and Frans van Waarden
Marius Meeus and Leon Oerlemans 1 INTRODUCTION The concept national systems of innovation (NSI) was made explicit in a number of contributions in the second half of the 1980s.1 In B.-Å. Lundvall’s Product Innovation and User-Producer Interaction (1985), it still appears as ‘the innovative capability of national production systems’. C. Freeman’s Technology Policy and Economic Performance: Lessons from Japan (1987) was the first major publication where the concept was explicitly used. The collaboration between Freeman, Nelson and Lundvall in the International Federation of Institutes for Advanced Study (IFIAS) project on technology and economic theory (Freeman 1998; Nelson 1998; Lundvall 1998) was crucial for the development of the concept. So far there have been three major books on the subject: B-Å. Lundvall (1992), National Systems of Innovation: Towards a theory of innovation and interactive learning; R. Nelson (1993), National Innovation Systems: A Comparative Analysis; and C. Edquist (1997), Systems of Innovation. Innovation systems research has evolved along three dimensions: geographical scale, technology and sector. Often researchers take one dimension as their starting point, and either disregard the other dimensions, or conflate the sectoral with the national (compare sectors between nations), conflate sectors with technologies (compare technological paradigms), or conflate nations and technologies (compare specialization patterns between countries). Only a few researchers combine these three dimensions successfully. Most innovation systems research is defined on a geographical scale. Whereas initially the national level was predominant (Freeman 1987; Nelson 1993; Barré 1996), later research introduced the regional and even the local level (Illeris and...
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