Striving Towards a Holistic Innovation Policy in European Countries

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    Innovation Team
    29 January 2016 - updated 2 years ago
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Charles Edquist
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The concept of a holistic innovation policy is defined in this article, with discussions of what it is, why it isrelevant, and how it can be implemented to enhance product innovation. It is shown that the innovation systemsapproach has diffused rapidly during the latest decades and has completely replaced the linear view inthe field of innovation research. The majority of European countries are striving in the direction of developinga more holistic innovation policy. However, it is concluded that the innovation policies in European countriesare still dominantly linear despite the fact that holistic policy seems to be the driving vision. Innovationpolicy is behindhand. Why innovation policy is still linear is also preliminarily discussed. Policymakers attendingconferences on innovation are practically always in favor of holistic (systemic, broad-based, comprehensive,etc) innovation policies, have abandoned the linear view by learning from innovation research. Thedivision between “linear” and “holistic” seems to be located within the community where innovation policiesare designed and implemented, a community composed of policymakers (administrators/bureaucrats)and elected politicians. Perhaps the dividing line is between these two groups in that politicians, who actuallymake the decisions, may still reflexively believe in the linear view. Nevertheless, there seems to be a failurein communication between researchers and politicians in the field of innovation and there is therefore astrong need to involve innovation researchers in policy design and implementation to a much higher degree.Another way to increase the degree of holism could be to separate innovation policy from research policy,since their integration tends to cement the linear character of innovation policy. The empirical results arebased on a questionnaire sent to twenty-three EU Member States, out of which nineteen (83%) responded.Part of the work for this article was carried out for the European Research and Innovation Area Committee(ERAC) of the European Commission (DG RTD).