Policy makers at all policy levels have in recent years shown an increased interest in the use of public procurement to harness innovation. The aim of this chapter is to review the upsurge of initiatives to support public procurement of innovation and to offer insights into the effectiveness of these policies. To do so, it proposes a delineation of these policies, including their academic rationales for intervention and the types of instruments used. The chapter further considers the specific conceptual and methodological issues characterising the assessment of such policies. It examines a variety of measures to facilitate the promotion of innovation through public procurement, ranging from legislative measures to financial incentives, targets, information provision and mechanisms to secure dialogue between users and producers. They range from more formal interventions, to umbrella programmes and strategies, to concrete instruments. Evidence of impact is fragmented. The effectiveness of certain instruments such as procurement plans in national ministries has been hampered by a lack of key performance indicators and a clear commitment and sanction mechanisms. More promising have been initiatives to support training and networking to support capability building in the public sector. Instruments to support the joint definition of needs and solutions, such as the competitive dialogue and the Lead Market Initiative of the European Commission, have been found to be conceptually sound and to be able to deliver, but have often been applied inappropriately. Finally, instruments seeking to deal with the risks associated with procuring innovations, such as forward commitment procurement (UK) and a Korean insurance programme, have had positive impact. But, for most of the measures for which some evidence exists, the main problem is not the basic concept, but the lack of rigorous implementation and assessment.
Elvira Uyarra and Kieron Flanagan
An extensive literature exists on regional innovation and knowledge-driven economic development, much of it claiming to be prescriptive. Yet attempts to translate insights from this literature into effective policies have met with mixed success. We identify some shortcomings in how much of this literature conceptualises policy and argue that a richer understanding of how real policy processes play out in the development of real places is a prerequisite for making more realistic and potentially effective prescriptions in the future, with particular emphasis on agency, institutional change, and multi-level, multi-actor dynamics.
Elvira Uyarra and Ronnie Ramlogan
The phenomenon of clusters has attracted much interest over recent years, both from academics who seek to understand their workings and policymakers who seek to emulate their apparent success. However, while numerous studies have sought to examine their characteristics, their performance and how they may be supported, particularly in regard of those clusters that occur ‘naturally’, little evidence is available on the nature and the impact of policies that have been implemented with the goal of fostering clusters. Thus, policy learning in this area is sparse. We endeavour to address this evidence gap, by reviewing the evolving rationales underpinning cluster policy and the challenges associated with their implementation and evaluation. The chapter concludes with some general lessons and implications.
Elvira Uyarra and Ronnie Ramlogan
In recent years clusters have become an important component of the policy maker’s toolbox, particularly in respect of endogenous pressures for growth and innovation. Academic and policy interest in clusters has emerged from the observation that many industries tend to cluster and the ex post analyses of the economic and innovation performance of a number of high-profile clusters. However, despite the popularity of the cluster concept and the widespread use of cluster policy, the question of whether public support of clusters is effective, particularly for innovation, is an open one. This chapter seeks to address this evidence gap. It first examines the main arguments underpinning cluster policy. It subsequently focuses on a number of recent experiences in supporting clusters across the OECD, and further highlights the challenges associated with the evaluation of these initiatives and available evidence on their outcomes. It then reviews the impact of a number of programmes that are selected for closer scrutiny. The chapter draws on available cluster policy evaluation exercises and related academic literature to report on the impacts and outcomes, both soft and substantive, of cluster policy. Finally, some broad implications for policy are drawn, in particular in relation to the need for policies to improve their clarity and focus in their choice of objectives and rationales, the need to allow for evaluation early on in the process, and the use of flexible and adapted interventions that are realistic rather than a rigid cluster model, together with a more careful targeting and a better balance between a hands-off approach and direct steering of clusters.