Unintended Consequences of Innovation Policy Programmes: Social Evaluation of Technological Projects Programme in Croatia

By Svarc, Jadranka; Perkovic, Juraj et al. | Innovation : Management, Policy & Practice, April 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Unintended Consequences of Innovation Policy Programmes: Social Evaluation of Technological Projects Programme in Croatia


Svarc, Jadranka, Perkovic, Juraj, Laznjak, Jasminka, Innovation : Management, Policy & Practice


INTRODUCTION

The evaluation of science, technology and innovation (STI) policies and related government-supported programmes is a relatively new phenomenon which dates from the late 1960s in the United States and the late 1970s in Europe (Luukkonen 2002; Roessner 2002; Molas-Gallart & Davies 2006). The interest for STI policy evaluation is mainly driven by the need of policy makers to legitimise R&D expenses and to demonstrate the impacts of STI policies on productivity, competitiveness and economic and social welfare in general.

Nowadays, within the 'broad-based' innovation policy (Edquist et al. 2009) and 'systemic approach' (Smits & Kuhlmann 2004) which underlines innovation as a contextual and endogenous process, the performance-based evaluation suffers certain limitations in assessing innovation policy measures (Perrin 2002). It assumes a direct relationship between input and output, whereas innovation is mediated through context and interaction with many other activities. Therefore, the evaluation of innovation policy instruments should go beyond standard quantitative measures to more formative approach to perceive wider socio-economic contexts which determine the outcomes and possible impacts of policy instruments (Kuhlmann 2003, 2006). The new trends in evaluation practice and methods ranging from quantitative to qualitative measures and from summative to formative types of evaluation have been introduced and elaborated by many authors (Georghiou & Roessner 2000; Perrin 2002; Roessner 2002; Kuhlmann 2003; Arnold 2004; Bozeman 2005; Molas-Gallart & Davies 2006).

The main argument for social evaluation of the government-supported innovation programmes comes from the 'new innovation paradigm' (Mytelka & Smith 2002: 1469) drawing on the evolutionary and institutional view of innovation which is broadly elaborated by scholars like Nelson and Winter (1982), Freeman (1988), Lundvall (1992), Lundvall and Borras (1997), Edquist (1997) and others. In this new context, the ability of businesses to be competitive increasingly depends on their capacity to apply new knowledge and innovation shaped by the partnerships and interactivity among many actors of the innovation system, primarily companies and research institutes/universities. The underlying theoretical idea was that innovation through interaction occurs in specific institutional contexts in which government has a critical role by defining the 'rules of the game' through various incentive measures and polices like legal rules on intellectual property, financial assistance, transfer institutions etc. It has provided a rapid rise to development of the innovation policy programmes to stimulate the commercialisation of publicly funded research and science-industry cooperation. A numerous studies on universitybased spin-offcompanies, university patenting/ licensing, public-private joint ventures etc. have been produced to illustrate the evolution of entrepreneurial activity of both the universities in general and individual scientists in particular. Despite the clash of business and scientific culture that is rooted in the classic normative structure of science (Merton 1968) many studies like those of Etzkowitz (1998, 2002), Hsu et al. (2007) Jain et al. (2009), Stuart and Ding (2006), Van Looy et al. (2004) depicted the shifts in scientists' attitudes toward commercial involvement.

Although commercial activity in academia is not without controversy it is commonly perceived that 'academic entrepreneur' has now achieved taken-for-granted status in the scientific community (Stuart & Ding 2006) while the notion of the eentrepreneurial university and its 'third mission' has become institutionalized within the triple helix model of science-industry- government cooperation (Etzkowitz 2008). Scientists, especially those at prestigious universities seek to capitalize on their research through the different technology transfer activities (e. …

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