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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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Chapter 12: Qualification Requirements and Organizational Change: New Challenges for Continuing Education and Vocational Training

The Danish Model

Bengt-Åke Lundvall


One of the areas in which the Danish innovation system and its system for the development of human resources stand out dramatically is the publicly financed investment in the areas of adult and continuing education.1 Denmark uses more than one per cent of its GNP on this type of activity, while the OECD average is about one-third of one per cent (see OECD 1997a, pp. 183ff). This national specificity has focused attention on this sector both in connection with OECD analyses and in the national public debate. In the following discussion we shall concentrate on the qualitative aspects of the system of continuing education. But before we examine this area more closely, we need to make a few comments on the extent and financing of the system. First of all this is an area where there is good reason to put Denmark forward as a model to be studied by the rest of Europe. Other European countries, for example France, are now on their way toward introducing elements of the Danish system; in general the learning economy and a consistent investment in ‘lifelong learning’ demands a greater public responsibility for adult and continuing education than has previously been assumed in the other OECD countries. Only if one is ideologically biased and views public activities as being by definition less effective than private ones is there grounds for such unilaterally negative opinion as was voiced in the policy section of the OECD’s country analysis of 1997 (OECD 1997b, pp. 120–22)...

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