Small Country Innovation Systems

Small Country Innovation Systems

Globalization, Change and Policy in Asia and Europe

Edited by Charles Edquist and Leif Hommen

This major book presents case studies of ten small country national systems of innovation (NSIs) in Europe and Asia, namely, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden and Taiwan. These cases have been carefully selected as examples of success within the context of globalization and as ‘new economies’ where competition is increasingly based on innovation.

Chapter 1: Comparing National Systems of Innovation in Asia and Europe: Theory and Comparative Framework

Charles Edquist and Leif Hommen

Subjects: innovation and technology, innovation policy


Charles Edquist and Leif Hommen 1 INTRODUCTION The concept of national systems of innovation (NSI) emerged in the late 1980s and started to diffuse more rapidly in the early 1990s with the seminal contributions of Lundvall (1992) and Nelson (1993). It has attracted the attention of many innovation researchers and policy makers (e.g. Amable, 2000; Edquist, 1997, 2005; Freeman, 1997, 2002; Lundvall, 1988; Mytelka and Smith, 2002; OECD, 1997, 2002; Saviotti, 1996) and has rapidly achieved broad international diffusion in both developed and developing countries (e.g. Correa, 1998; Kaiser and Prange, 2004; Liu and White, 2001; Niosi, 1991).1 However, progress in refining the NSI concept has been uneven and difficult to assess, given that ‘no single definition has yet imposed itself on NSI research’ (Niosi, 2002, p. 291) and many of the key terms are used in an ambiguous way. As argued previously (Edquist, 2005, pp. 201–3), there is therefore a need for theoretically based empirical research to ‘straighten up’ the approach and make it more ‘theory-like’. A comparative research project on varieties of NSI, as well as determinants of innovation processes within them, may make particularly valuable contributions to such an effort. The ‘ten countries’ research project addressed in this volume – so called because it compared ten ‘small economy’ SI – started operating in a practical sense in the latter half of 2002. However, it also had a lengthy ‘prehistory’, in which different versions of the project description were discussed by...

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