The Widening and Deepening of Innovation Policy

Borras, Susanna. 2009. The Widening and Deepening of Innovation Policy: What Conditions Provide for Effective Governance?, Circle Electronic Working Paper Series.
Review – Riaz K. Tayob

Borras provides a very interesting and well thought out analytic framework “which can help unravel which specific combinations and forms of political conditions are most related to the effective governance of innovation systems”. The paper looks at recent trends in widening and deepening trends in innovation policy, and develops an analytic toolbox based on some assumptions regarding the political conditions for effective governance of innovation systems. In addition, the approach takes into account mutual dependency of actors and actions through incorporation of the concept of reflexivity, which is a good way of incorporating a “dynamic” variable. The paper moves beyond product and process innovation as focus areas, and includes organisational innovation. Given the wide palette of issues to inquire into (innovation is complex), the framework seems to provide remarkable ways of creating a scope and means of inquiry that does make it “manageable”.

Since it conceives of innovation in a non-linear and evolutionary perspective, fully recognising the “serendipity” of knowledge creation, the scope of conceptualisation is sufficiently broad to be regarded as a “realistic” take on innovation and its role, despite the assumptions.

Borras is also careful to provide an important clarification, “...governance refers to state-society-economy relations and the role of government in these general terms, innovation policy refers to the set of concrete policy instruments designed and implemented in specific innovation areas, and which have effects on the institutional framework directly concerned with the innovation system... the starting point is the relevance of purposeful action towards institutional change, as the means with which to induce improved socio-economic and innovation...