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Institutions, Innovation and Growth

Selected Economic Papers

Edited by Jean-Philippe Touffut

The first book in this important new series, under the general editorship of Nobel Laureate Robert Solow, Institutions, Innovation and Growth assembles a stellar cast of international contributors. Leading economists join the debate on innovation and economic growth, focussing on a broad spectrum of issues ranging from labour markets to corporate governance. Growth paths within the OECD are also assessed, with particular emphasis on contrasts between US and European models. The book seeks to identify those institutional factors, taking into account different national trajectories, which might serve to promote economic growth in Europe.
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Chapter 8: The diversity of social systems of innovation and production during the 1990s

Bruno Amable and Pascal Petit


Bruno Amable, with Pascal Petit INTRODUCTION The concept of an ‘innovation system’ (IS) refers to the various attempts that have been made to incorporate institutional elements into the economic analysis of technical change, and to study the impact these elements have had on long-term economic performance.1 Many research projects have started out with the premise that it is necessary to get away from viewing innovation as a process of mere individual decision making undertaken independently of institutional environments.2 Innovation necessarily implies interactions between actors (firms, researchers, universities, laboratories) and their environments. Moreover, it is wrong to think that such environments comprise nothing more than market price(s), albeit contingent. In reality, they consist of a whole set of rules, organizational forms and institutions. The differences in ‘technological styles’ that can be observed at the territorial level (usually a national one, although it can sometimes be a region or a wider grouping of countries), or even at the sectoral level, stem from variations in the institutional configurations that are specific to each territory. The expression ‘technological style’ is intentionally vague given the diversity of the characteristic features of technical change that are associated with institutional particularities: for example, the rate of change, the type of innovation (whether radical or incremental) and sectoral specialization which itself might vary as a function of the level of technological intensity or even of the long-term growth rate. These things being so, which types of institutions need integrating into innovation systems studies? IS research derives from...

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