and the European Innovation System
The process of European integration is not based on a customs union, a common
agricultural policy and a single currency only: it is also based on circulation of
knowledge among individual member countries. This is not associated to cultural
and social values only, but also to the belief that economic growth and welfare in
the old continent is strictly associated to its capability to generate and diffuse new
technologies. It is therefore not surprisinlgy that there is a major policy concern
within governments, business and trade unions on the ways to promote scientific
and technolgical activities and to foster innovation in firms.
The signals of a worsening of the European economy both in comparison to Japan
and the USA are increasing (see Gambardella and Malerba, 1999; Fagerberg,
Guerrieri and Verspagen, 1999; Vivarelli and Pianta, 2000), especially in the most
dynamic sectors of the economy. It is more and more evident that Europe is not
managing to keep on foot in the new economy based on the intensive use of ICTs.
United States and Japan have proven to be much more vital in the rising fields and
industries. While in the 1980s we assisted to the dramatic rise of Japan and other
East Asian economies in hardware technologies linked to to ICT (for a
comprehensive overview, see Freeman, 1987), in the 1990s the United States have
managed to recover their traditional economic leadership in knowledge-intensive
industries by exploiting and disseminating ICTs in the service sector. Within the
triad, Japan and the other East Asian economy continue to have a prominent
position in the generation of the ’hardware’ component of ICTs, while the USA
have a dominant position in the ’software’ component. Europe has neither of them.
It is therefore not surprising that a substantial and increasing part of the European
Commission budget is devoted to promote scientific and... [continues]
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