The Legitimation and Dissemination Processes of the Innovation System Approach: The Case of the Canadian and Québec Science and Technology Policy

Science, Technology, and Human Values 32 (2):221-249 (2007)
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Abstract

A new approach in science policy making named the innovation system approach has been developed during the past three decades. Its primary goal is to better understand the processes through which scientific knowledge is produced and transferred to businesses to improve their competitiveness and develop national and/or regional economies. This approach has been adopted as an analytical framework and guideline for science policy making by numerous public sector organizations around the world. Using a case study of the Canadian and Québec public sectors, our research seeks to understand why the IS approach has gained the adherence of government employees and how it has been disseminated from international organizations down to regional civil servants. Findings show that adherence to the IS approach stems from the prestige of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and its associated epistemic community, and from the cultural authority science exerts on government employees; these two factors bestow cultural authority onto the IS approach. The perceived scientific validity of the IS approach also leads government employees to consider its underlying economistic worldview as an unquestionable reality.

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