Transformative innovation policy: Addressing variety in an emerging policy paradigm

Gijs Diercks, Henrik Larsen, Fred Steward (Contributor)

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


This paper presents an analytical framework for assessing the emergence of a new policy paradigm labelled “transformative innovation policy”, which can be seen as layered upon, but not fully replacing, earlier policy paradigms of science and technology policy and innovation systems policy. The paper establishes conceptual diversity in this emerging policy paradigm. Despite a common agenda for transformative change, there are notable differences concerning the understanding of the innovation process. Two global initiatives to promote such new innovation policies, Mission Innovation and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, are used to illustrate how different articulations of transformative innovation policy are expressed in practice. These may be seen as a positive expression of the breadth of the emerging policy paradigm. While there are grounds for such a positive reading, this paper ends with a caution by stressing the political nature of paradigm change and the strong legacy of an economic, firm-centred and technology-oriented tradition in innovation policy. It makes a plea for more emphasis on a broader conceptualization of transformative innovation, and suggests that a socio-technical understanding of innovation provides several appropriate analytical concepts that can help to shape our thinking and understanding of transformative innovation policy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch Policy
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2018

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