Small Country Innovation Systems
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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.
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Chapter 7: Reconsidering the Paradox of High R & D Input and Low Innovation: Sweden

Pierre Bitard, Charles Edquist and Leif Hommen


7. Reconsidering the paradox of high R&D input and low innovation: Sweden Pierre Bitard, Charles Edquist, Leif Hommen and Annika Rickne 1 INTRODUCTION The notion of a ‘Swedish paradox’ has been central to recent innovation policy discussions in Sweden. When first formulated, it was as a reflection of a high research and development (R&D) intensity in Sweden coupled with a low share of high-tech (R&D-intensive) products in manufacturing as compared to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. It was seen as a paradox between a high input and a low output measured by these specific indicators (Edquist and McKelvey, 1998).1 In other words, it pointed to a low productivity of the Swedish national system of innovation (NSI) in this specific sense. Subsequently, the expression has been used widely, but often formulated as a general relation between inputs and outputs – e.g. that the investments in R&D in Sweden are very large, but that the ‘pay-off’ (in terms, e.g., of growth and competitiveness) is not particularly impressive (e.g. Andersson et al., 2002, ch. 2). Due to varying uses of the concept, and since many formulations have been based on rather partial data, it is not yet clear to what extent there exists a paradox or where the gap between input and output resides. In this chapter, we shall discuss the Swedish paradox in terms of a relation between inputs of R&D and innovation efforts and outputs of innovations...

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