Innovation Systems and Universities: Theoretical Aspects

Ignas Dzemyda, Agnius Karčiauskas

Abstract


The innovation capacities of the European Union are seriously lagging behind the United States and Japan, and the gap is felt to this day. The desire to encourage innovation in the European Union has led to new approaches. Lisbon meeting of European leaders in 2000 agreed on a process that should strengthen competitiveness and growth of the Union. Inspired by the ideas of the innovation systems they set out to create a Europe of Knowledge 2010. This goal encompassed higher education because it combines research, education and innovation, which form foundations of competiveness. However, the goal was not achieved. Among the reasons for failing to fulfil the goal was the lack of involvement of higher education in the innovation processes. Little research has been done of the interaction between higher education and national innovation systems. The absence of research of this interaction can be explained by the deviancy of legitimate theoretical constructions. The main aim of the article is to explore the theoretical basis of interaction between higher education and national innovation systems.
Research regarding the involvement of higher education institutions, universities in particular, in the innovation processes, dates back to the late 20th century. Gibbons and his colleagues analyze the involvement of universities in innovation-based economy through the approach of knowledge creation and dissemination. Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff interpret changes of universities through the prism of institutional interaction. These theories explain how higher education emerges in a national innovation system and interact with other players.
The concept of a national innovation system was invented by Bengt-Åke Lundvall and Chris Freeman. Unfortunately, this concept is characterized by the loosely based theoretical designs, which cannot be easily empirically justified because such broad concepts leave much room for interpretations. Furthermore, the explanations of this concept include elements (e.g. knowledge, network connections) that cannot be well operationalised statistically.
Developments in the university world context (e.g. globalization and shift in the economy towards innovation-based business) has led to the creation of a new market or entrepreneurial university, which is increasingly starting to copy private-sector business practices and principles. The entrepreneurial university is characterized by a closer cooperation with the business sector, by a larger responsibility for attracting external sources of income and by managerial ethics in the institutional management. These changes replaced the traditional activities of the university that were based on subject delivery. The paradigm is mainly oriented towards the economy and the ideological basis of globalization and in direct conflict with the social mission of higher education and its contribution to the common good, to social renewal and to fundamental development.

Keywords


innovation systems; universities; innovation of the country

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236