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The theoretical framework of innovation systems has been intensively studied over the last decades. The analysis of the network of interactions between institutions…
The theoretical framework of innovation systems has been intensively studied over the last decades. The analysis of the network of interactions between institutions, actors, and processes appeared promising to derive valid hypotheses about the necessary preconditions and accelerating factors for and throughout the emergence of innovation. Few studies, however, succeeded to transform the theoretical framework into a model and even fewer took into account the evolutionary (time-related) character of such a complex system. This article follows two main questions: The first question is of a theoretical or methodological nature and is focused on how innovation systems can be designed in a way that makes them a workable model for future research. The main challenge lies in the generation of precise hypotheses that enable the researcher to trace technological evolution and the surrounding environment over time. This implies that the underlying theoretical assumptions of innovation systems have to be operationalized. This paper follows on the existing approaches and compares their merit to extract a promising concept. This concept is being coupled with existing theoretical assumptions on innovation policy to tackle the second question in this article about how to measure the political actors' influence on the innovation process. In essence, it becomes evident that innovation systems demand different political support in different development phases. These differences mainly refer to the level of intervention (from local to international) and types of interventions (e.g., direct investment, regulatory or systemic interventions). The article shows where in the system's development process certain types of political interventions are likely to be necessary and when private entrepreneurs and market mechanisms do not need this (or any) type of support. Finally, it sheds light on the influence of system-external events on the innovation system's development. It is shown that a consequential impact on the development can be spotted mainly under the influence of external macro events. Interestingly, these influences are on the one hand translated into the system via political action and on the other hand impact quite differently on the respective innovation systems, based on the system's state of evolution.