The experimentation-accountability trade-off in innovation and industrial policy: are learning networks the solution?
6 October 2022, 13:00
The exact nature of Industrial/Innovation (I/I) policy challenges and the best way to address them are unknown ex-ante. This requires a degree of experimentation, which can be problematic in the context of an accountable public administration and leaves the question of how to reconcile the experimental nature of I/I policy with the need for public accountability, a crucial but unresolved issue. The trade-off between experimentation and accountability requires a governance model that will allow continuous feedback loops among the various stakeholders and ongoing evaluation of and adjustments to activities as programmes are implemented. We propose an ‘action learning’ approach, incorporating the governance mechanism of ‘learning networks’ (LN) to handle the problems of implementing experimental governance of new and untried I/I policies. We resolve the issue of accountability by drawing on the literature on network governance in public policy. By integrating control and learning dimensions of accountability, this approach enables us to resolve conceptually and empirically trade-offs between the need for experimentation and accountability in I/I policy.
Slavo Radosevic is Professor of Industry and Innovation Studies at the UCL where he has also been acting director of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies. He had worked at University of Sussex SPRU as a researcher, and before that as a researcher in Croatia. His main research interests are in science, technology, industrial change, foreign direct investments and innovation policy in Europe, with particular reference to central and eastern Europe (CEE). He has published extensively in international journals and edited several volumes on these issues. He favours empirically oriented and policy relevant research projects, based on neo-Schumpeterian economics. He acts as an expert for the EC, OECD, UNESCO, UNIDO, World Bank, UNECE and Asian Development Bank and several governments in CEE. He also had significant policy-making experience at the highest level in Croatia and ex-Yugoslavia. He was a special advisor to the EC DG Commissioner for Regional and Urban Policy (2015-2019). He was visiting professor at National Research University Higher School of Economics St Petersburg.