• Status: Avsluttet
  • Prosjektnr: 451773
  • Start: 10.01.2011
  • Slutt: 10.06.2014
  • Finansiering: Norges forskningsråd


Governing Innovation policy in the Western Balkans (WBinNO)

The main objective of the Innovation policy learning from Norway in Western Balkans (WBinNO) project was to assist policy makers in the Western Balkan countries develop and implement innovation policies by way of identifying appropriate ‘good’ practices in other countries and through the analysis of their own innovation systems. The region depends on the creation, transfer and use of knowledge to catch-up with technological leaders such as Norway. Success depends on the development and implementation of new institutions and policy instruments that are complementary to the needs of the local economy.

The vast institutional diversity across the Western Balkan region, with many interlocking complementarities, attest that many different institutional constellations can bring about the same goal of economic growth and catching-up. For this reason, ‘best practice’ norms are unconvincing, and that policy learning involves not only learning from mistakes, but also observing ‘good’ policy practices in other countries. Good policy, or successful paths of economic growth, depends on providing institutional complementarity, and a coherent policy framework for dynamic innovation.

There is an urgent need for the Balkan countries to develop a strategic, horizontal approach to innovation policy that spans across ministerial boundaries as well as be part of ministerial action plans. This is a challenging task that even countries such as Norway find difficult to achieve. Because there are many policy narratives individual ministries and other stakeholders maintain their own organizational norms, belief systems and practices, and share a common narrative. Researchers are likewise grounded in narrow belief systems, interests and ideologies. They often gravitate to ministries and research institutes that share a common belief system. Power struggles, risk aversion, a lack of dialogue, a shortage of resources, and turf wars often stop the flow of knowledge.

Innovation policy learning requires inter-agency collaboration, interaction with relevant ministries and counties, support for the research program for research and innovation policy, use of regional and international offices for intelligence gathering, and the recruitment of people with relevant competences. International collaboration, especially with the OECD, European Commission and other collaborative networks is also essential. The use of sound ex-post impact assessment methods is vital if the policy-maker is to properly evaluate the outcome of an intended policy intervention. Finally, it is important to not only recognize the formal institutional arrangements and macroeconomic framework conditions of a country, but also the informal arrangements that define culture and religious beliefs when setting policy goals.

Effective policy learning necessitates that policymakers have a theoretical and factual knowledge of the innovation system, including the economic, political and cultural institutions supporting the system, and the relevant policy instruments. One important challenge is to turn theories into policy narratives, so that there is greater communication across interdisciplinary boundaries, as well as within the disciplines themselves. Economics often dominates the policy narrative, which can be destructive if a neoclassical theory dominates the dialogue.


bilde av Mark Stephen Knell

Mark Stephen Knell

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