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The Effects of Innovation Network Policies

Nesta Working Paper 12/04
Issued: March 2012
JEL Classification: O38
Keywords: Impact, Innovation policies, Network policies, R&D networks, innovation networks, networks


This paper is part of the Compendium of Evidence on the Effectiveness of Innovation Policy

Intervention. It examines the evidence on the relationship between public support for networks and the impact on innovation. It provides a conceptual background for policy instruments that enhance innovation through the activities of networks, the rationale for their deployment and the main types of approach adopted. Drawing on a review of the available literature, it presents evidence on the impacts of policy interventions on network creation, management and behaviour and - where available - the effects of networks on innovation from a variety of forms of network support. This evidence is analysed against a framework that examines the rationale and goals of network policies and the extent to which expected outcomes have been realised with respect to such issues as collaboration/networking, partnerships, leading edge research, research training and the transfer and exploitation of knowledge and the cost effectiveness and design issues of networks.

From the analysis, two important issues emerge: first, the complexity of networks and the diversity of motivations, rationales, activities, outputs, outcomes and effects make the task of evaluation very difficult. Evaluations tend, therefore, to focus on specific aspects of network behaviour rather than covering the complete set of potential variables; second, the timing of evaluations is, in many cases, a critical issue. Finally, a number of key lessons are presented.


Paul Cunningham, Ronnie Ramlogan

The Nesta Working Paper Series is intended to make available early results of research undertaken or supported by Nesta and its partners in order to elicit comments and suggestions for revisions and to encourage discussion and further debate prior to publication (ISSN 2050-9820). The views expressed in this working paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of Nesta.