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Innovation, Growth and Social Cohesion

The Danish Model

Bengt-Åke Lundvall

Written by the scholar who, together with Chris Freeman, first introduced the concept of the innovation system, this book brings the literature an important step forward. Based upon extraordinarily rich empirical material, it shows how and why competence building and innovation are crucial for economic growth and competitiveness in the current era. It also provides a case study of a small, very successful European economy combining wealth creation with social cohesion.
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Introduction: Innovation and Social Cohesion in a Learning Economy

Bengt-Åke Lundvall


Introduction: innovation and social cohesion in a learning economy The radical change in the wider context in which national economies evolve, collaborate and compete has been alluded to along different dimensions and in different types of discourses. Some emphasize globalization and that nation states tend to loose some of their autonomy. Others point to the growing importance of knowledge for economic development and refer to the ‘knowledge-based economy’. Yet others give information technology a key role in the process of change and some go as far as referring to a ‘new economy’ where old trade-offs between high rates of growth and stability have been relinquished. The hypothesis put forward here and underlying the analysis all the way through is that we are moving into a ‘learning economy’ where the success of individuals, firms, regions and countries will, more than anything else, reflect their capability to learn. The speed-up of change reflects the rapid diffusion of information technology, the widening of the global market-place, with the inclusion of new strong competitors, deregulation and less stability in market demand. The acceleration in the rate of change implies that knowledge and skills are exposed to a depreciation that is more rapid than before. Therefore, the increase in the stock of knowledge might be less dramatic than it looks at first sight (OECD 2000b). Different national economies exposed to the same transformation pressure have different capabilities to innovate and to cope with change and they have also established different principles and institutions for distributing...

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