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date: 20 November 2018

Science and Innovation Policy

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Business and Management. Please check back later for the full article.

Scientific advance and innovation are major sources of economic growth and are crucial for making social and environmental development sustainable. A critical question is if private enterprises invest sufficiently in research and development and, if not, to what degree and how governments should engage in the support of science and innovation. While neoclassical economists point to market failure as the main rationale for innovation policy, evolutionary economists point to the role of government in building stronger innovation systems and creating wider opportunities for innovation.

Research shows that the transmission mechanisms between scientific advance and innovation are complex and indirect. There are other equally important sources of innovation, including experience-based learning. Innovation is increasingly seen as a systemic process where the feedback from users needs to be taken into account when designing public policy.

Science and innovation policy may aim at accelerating knowledge production along well-established trajectories or at giving new direction to the production and use of knowledge. It may be focused exclusively on economic growth, or it may give attention to the impact on social inclusion and the natural environment. An emerging topic is the extent to which national perspectives continue to be relevant in a globalizing learning economy facing multiple global complex challenges, including the issue of global warming. Scholars point to a movement toward transformative innovation policy and global knowledge sharing as a response to current challenges.