Institutions for Innovation and Economic Growth

Coordinator: prof. dr. Erik Stam 

Societies are always in flux, never in equilibrium. Technology and innovation change our world  and can improve well-being worldwide. This theme addresses the question how innovation should be managed and regulated to improve economic and societal performance - which is a continuously developing research question. Enterprises must invest in human capital, innovate and develop sustainable technologies to remain competitive in product markets.

But innovating is often risky and its payoffs  are uncertain, while the social returns can be considerable. Private investments in innovation tend to be lower than desirable from a societal point of view. Innovation can be stimulated by carefully designed institutions. In their turn, innovations require institutional changes and adaptation. Institutions are the result of historical processes and often do not match well with new goods and services. An example is the recent growing importance of social media, where data about countless people can be relatively easily collected from social media.

This data collection leads to new privacy concerns that consequently need regulations to prevent misuse. Technological and social innovations will thus continuously pose new questions on how to change institutions and optimise them for changing environments. This theme clearly deals with issues that are relevant to many domains within Horizon 2020, especially domains that traditionally are not targeted by the Social Sciences & Humanities.

Questions include:

  • How do institutions, at the national, regional and organisational level, enable or constrain sustainable innovation and productive entrepreneurship?
  • How can coordination problems, legal disputes and free-riding in innovation be solved?
  • How do institutions and technologies co-evolve?
  • How do changes in business systems and corporate governance affect economic growth?
  • What is the role of institutions at the micro-level (household systems, inheritance) in long run patterns of growth and global divergencies in wealth and welfare?
  • How can technological and institutional innovation be evaluated ethically?
  • To what extent and in what manner do entrepreneurs, research institutes and innovative organisations create institutional change?