Meaning and Implications from
a Knowledge Systems Perspective
ELIAS G. CARAYANNIS
DAVID F. J. CAMPBELL
Under the comprehensive umbrella term of Mode 3 our interest is to put a conceptual link between systems and systems theory on the one hand, and their application to knowledge on the other hand. Systems can be understood as being composed of elements, which are tied together by a self-rationale. For innovation, often innovation clusters and innovation networks are being regarded as important. Leveraging systems theory for innovation concepts, one can draw a referential line between the elements of a system and clusters (innovation clusters) and the self-rationale of a system and networks (innovation networks). One advantage of this approach is that it makes the tools of systems theory effectively available for research about innovation. Also from original research about the European Union the concept of a multilevel hierarchy promises conceptual opportunities. Further integrating systems theory, we can speak of multilevel systems of knowledge (following different levels of aggregation) and multilevel systems of innovation (also following different levels of aggregation). The popular and powerful concept of the national innovation system is being chronically challenged by ongoing processes of supranational and global integration. Conceptually unlocking the national innovation systems in favor of a broader multilevel logic implies further accepting the existence of national innovation systems, but, at the same time, emphasizing also their global embeddedness. Our suggested catch-phrase of Mode 3, therefore, integrates several considerations that want to relate systems theory, knowledge, and innovation more directly and should be understood as a contribution to the general discourse.