GIST Seminar

The 81st GIST Seminar "Innovation bureaucracy:How governments successfully organize innovation?"

The 81st GIST Seminar
Speaker Dr. Erkki Karo
(Senior Research fellow, Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia;
GRIPS Visiting Scholar (JSPS postdoctoral fellow))
Time 17:30 - 19:00, November 1, 2016
(Doors open at 17:10)
Venue Room 4A, 4th Floor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies(ACCESS)
Sponsor GRIPS Innovation, Science and Technology Policy Program (GIST)
Language English
Fee Free (Pre-registraion required)


Most innovation policy experts would probably agree that supporting innovation both in new radical innovation based industries (characterized by high uncertainties and 'high-risk high-return' dynamics) as well as in complex established legacy sectors (characterized by institutional complexities and entrenched interest) requires governments or 'innovation bureaucracies' with capacities to both 'innovate' in innovation policy (to search for better policy instruments and organizational designs) and to effectively implement these policies. But how do innovation bureaucracies create and sustain such complementary capacities? Is the currently popular trend of 'darpafication' of innovation policies - the creation of DARPA-like 'change agents' - the only and best solution?

In this presentation we will look at the historical and modern evolutions of innovation bureaucracies across different contexts (US, Europe, East Asia). We argue that the debates on how to organize innovation policies have not changed much since the emergence of modern academic research on management and innovation in early 20th century. Scholars and policy-makers have debated for more than a century over the merits of two key forms of organization (and specific capacities they embody): to simplify, the main debate has been over should one stick to modernizing 'Weberian' meritocracies, or move towards 'Schumpeterian' governments?

We will show based on the historical accounts and modern experiences from US, Europe and East Asia that most successful innovation bureaucracies have been characterized by context specific organizational set-ups of innovation bureaucracies that combine the merits of these so-called Weberian and Schumpeterian organizational forms. In other words, successful innovation bureaucracies are ambidextrous. We further show that the specific techno-economic, politico-economic and politico-administrative contexts of each country determine the feasible (as opposed to ideal or desirable) organizational designs of innovation bureaucracies. Based on these arguments, we will also discuss the current trends of 'experimental governance' and 'darpafication' of innovation policies in Europe and East Asia.

Simplified personal history

Dr. Erkki Karo is a Senior Research Fellow at Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology (Estonia) and a JSPS postdoctoral fellow at GRIPS - National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo (for 2015-2016). He has received PhD in Technology Governance from the Tallinn University of Technology (Estonia). He has also been a visiting PhD research student at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), University College London (UK), and the University of Iceland.
His research focuses on governance and public management of science, technology and innovation policies in both developing and developed economies. He has worked on policy-related projects (related to cluster policy, open innovation and innovation policy, innovation policy strategies and its’ governance, smart specialisation policies) both for the Estonian local governments and central government institutions. Between 2012-2015 he was also a principal investigator of the Research and Innovation Policy Monitoring Programme - an applied research and consultancy programme initiated and financed by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. He is also a co-chair of the European Group for Public Administration permanent study group on Public Administration, Technology & Innovation.

Reference book

The presentation will be based on a forthcoming book Rainer Kattel, Wolfgang Drechsler and Erkki Karo (2017).
Innovation Bureaucracy: How Governments Successfully Organise Innovation, Yale University Press.


Please fill in Registration Form by 6 pm on October 31.
If you cannot open the form, please send email to GIST Secretariat, . Registration email must include: 1) your name*, 2) institution*, 3) job title, and 4) contact information (email address or phone number)*.
*Required items
The application will be closed as soon as the number of applicants reaches the capacity.
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