The Dynamic Transformation of the Finnish Innovation System
New Horizons in the Economics of Innovation series
Edited by Gerd Schienstock
Chapter 1: From path dependency to path creation: A new challenge to the systems of innovation approach
Gerd Schienstock 1.1 INTRODUCTION There is wide agreement that we are currently living through a period of fundamental and rapid economic transformation. Not only single elements of national economies are becoming the target of restructuring; instead the way the whole system is organized is changing. The ICT revolution is being given an important role in the transformation process; at the same time not only the established best practices of designing intra- and inter-organizational production processes, but also the existing institutional support structures, the functioning of political systems and even national cultures are fundamentally changing. Of course the fact of fundamental change also has major implications for research on techno-economic development and national systems of innovation. While up to now the systems approach concentrated mainly on the aspect of path dependency where the dominant feedback loops are self-reinforcing, in the current period research has to focus more on processes of unlocking and path creation (Garud and Karnoe 2000). The aim of this chapter is to contribute to such a re-conceptualization of the national systems of innovation framework. At the same time the chapter will raise some methodological problems and will point to some substantive aspects, which are dealt with in the following chapters of the book. Finland provides a good example of the successful creation of a new national development path, having been able to transform its resourcebased economy into a knowledge-based one (Castells and Himanen 2001). In the following section I will briefly discuss the traditional path dependency perspective and...
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