How easily can governments alter the industrial structure of economies? This introductory chapter explores competing perspectives on the ability of governments to promote competitiveness within new technology industries, such as biotechnology and software. A first approach, widely shared by governments, is that policy can orchestrate the allocation of resources into new technology sectors needed to promote competitiveness. A second approach, widely endorsed by recent academic research, is that enduring national institutional frameworks strongly impact the governance of new technology firms. A popular strand of institutional research known as the “varieties of capitalism” approach makes particularly strong claims linking institutions to innovation. According to this perspective, most European economies have “organized” institutional frameworks that impede competitiveness in new technology industries. This chapter explores this debate, and sets the agenda used by the book to evaluate the extent to which institutional frameworks impact the ability of governments to promote competitiveness within new technology industries.
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