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National Systems of Innovation and the Idea - Innovation Chain

Year Group 1998/99

Interdisciplinary theme group researching and studying national systems of innovation.

About the topic

The idea of NIAS as a place where scientists from different research and disciplinary backgrounds can meet, discuss and co-operate in relatively intensive interaction worked well for us. Our group consisted of economists, sociologists, organisational theorists, and historians who from their various backgrounds have worked on innovation.

We discussed differences between product-market combinations, economic sectors and countries. We even learned from other Fellows – over lunch and at the NIAS bar – and from disciplines from which one would not expect to at first sight. Linguists taught us more about the nature of institutions and institutional change – language being a social institution par excellence.

The theme group organised three conferences while at NIAS. From January 27-29 we held a conference on “National Systems of Innovation” in which 25 scholars from abroad and the Netherlands participated, among them some of the leading figures in the field.

On May 27 and 28 we organised a seminar “Technology and Productivity in Historical Perspective”, together with the N.W. Posthumus Institute and the University of Groningen at which again both Dutch and foreign scholars presented papers.
Finally, in June we held a workshop where the group presented papers to a Dutch audience of policymakers and researchers.

Each team member worked on his own projects under the numerator of innovation. In addition the group worked on some collective projects. We wrote articles, and discussed them on several occasions, for a joint special issue of a journal on innovation. The contributions are currently under review. Team members also wrote chapters for a book-length survey of various literatures concerned with innovation, which should serve as a basis for a future research programme on innovation of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Finally, the theme-group obtained funding from the European Union’s TSER programme for a follow up in a large-scale comparative empirical study on national systems of innovation.