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Innovation, Complexity and Policy

Contributions from 30 years of innovation policy research in Austria

Matthias Weber

This book brings together a set of contributions that show the breadth and depth of the scientific work of Josef Fröhlich and his influence on Austrian research, technology and innovation (RTI) policy. It is edited in honour of the occasion of his retirement as Head of Innovation Systems Department at the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology. The contributors provide an overview of important issues of debate at the intersection of innovation studies and government policy, which have been pivotal for the modernisation and consolidation of the Austrian innovation system since the early 1990s.

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Introduction (Matthias Weber)


Matthias Weber


The three terms “Innovation”, “Complexity” and “Policy” have been chosen for the title of this volume, because they represent the key concepts that have inspired the work of Josef Fröhlich over more than three decades of research work at AIT Austrian Institute of Technology and its predecessor organisations. Understanding how research and innovation work, how they drive change in the economy, and how government can make sure that socially beneficial impacts can be reaped were the driving force behind his work at the interface between applied research and science-based policy advice. These interests met with a growing recognition by the Austrian government that the country could only maintain its industrial strengths and ensure the standard of living of its citizens by advancing and exploiting the scientific potential of the country.

In line with his background in theoretical physics, Josef Fröhlich was very much inspired by systems thinking, and when system approaches became widely accepted in the economics of innovation and innovation policy alike (Fagerberg et al. 2004; OECD 1992; OECD 2002), his research group took up these ideas very quickly as a foundation to inspire research and innovation policy making in Austria, and also to contribute to the further advancement of innovation systems research (e.g. Schartinger et al. 2002, Weber and Rohracher 2012). Still, in spite of the political success of innovation systems thinking, it represented mainly a heuristic approach rather than a consolidated theory of innovation. The innovation...

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