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Only one way to skin a cat? Heterogeneity and equifinality in European national innovation systems

Valeria Cirillo (), Arianna Martinelli (), Alessandro Nuvolari () and Matteo Tranchero

Research Policy, 2019, vol. 48, issue 4, 905-922

Abstract: One of the most significant results of the qualitative literature on national systems of innovation (NSIs) is that different systemic arrangements (i.e. configurations of actors and institutions) can deliver similar levels of innovative performance. Using factor analysis on a novel dataset of 29 quantitative indicators of innovative activities we provide an empirical characterization of the structure of European NSIs over the last ten years. Our results cast doubt on the empirical significance of the “equifinality” of heterogeneous systemic arrangements in the context of NSI. Innovation systems show inherent complexity, which leads to a high level of complementarity among their constituent components and configuration. This result implies that successful innovation policies should be systemic, leaving little flexibility in policy design and scope.

Keywords: National system of innovation (NSI); Europe, factor analysis; Innovation policies; Equifinality (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2018.10.012

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