Convergence Between Europe and America: The Transition from Industrial to Innovation Policy

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Traditionally, the U.S. and Western Europe have chosen different policies to foster commercial innovation. Whereas (federal) government intervention in the U.S. has required strict justifications and has been mainly indirect, most governments on the other side of the Atlantic have played an explicit and more active role in the economy. However, recent developments indicate a convergence between Europe and America, both in type of policy measures and their legitimation. Within a framework of risk profiles and a typology of justifications, we examine several U.S. and European programs (Etzkowitz, 1997). We find that the main reason for convergence in policy agendas and measures seems to be an incorporation of perceived missing links in the innovation systems in response to reciprocal competitive pressures. Hence, the federal government is aiming to play a more direct role in the U.S., while the university sector and technology transfer becomes increasingly integrated in European innovation policies.

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