New book by RNS researchers on public procurement & innovation

“Public Procurement, Innovation and Policy. International Perspectives” (Springer, 2013) has come out, being the first-ever comparative book on innovation-oriented public procurement policy-making. The book was edited by RNS researchers Professor Rainer Kattel and Senior Research Fellows Dr. Veiko Lember and Dr. Tarmo Kalvet.

Covering a wide range of international contexts and perspectives, the book is research-oriented, but also has direct practical relevance. By analyzing the evolution and development of the various policy solutions in broader institutional contexts, it addresses significant theoretical and practical gaps: On the one hand, there is an emerging interest in public procurement as a policy tool for spurring innovation; yet on the other hand, the current theory, with some notable exceptions, is guided and often constrained by historical applications, above all in the defense industries. By carefully examining the cases of eleven countries, the book points to the existence of much more nuanced public procurement on the innovation policy landscape than has been acknowledged in the academic and policy debates to date.

The foreword for this book was written by RNS Professor Carlota Perez:

“After several decades of market fundamentalism and the drive for smaller governments, most countries—advanced, emerging or developing—are facing the need for rethinking the role of the State in the economy.

This change of face is consistent with the view that the major bubble collapse reveals a serious decoupling between the financial world and the real economy as well as an acute polarisation of income within and between countries. It is illusory to expect markets to overcome these cleavages. Such ills can only be heale through the intervention of the State as an active and creative agent of innovation for growth and widespread well-being.

Among the many ways of government action in pursuit of such goals, innovation procurement seems to be a prime instrument. It is both a form of public investment that spurs economic activity and a way of stimulating private efforts in innovation directed at fulfilling social needs.

Although government procurement is a proven and effective instrument, together with investment, for mobilising the economy, innovation procurement is much less used and less well known, except in the case of the defence industries, especially in the US. It is therefore of great relevance to examine a set of diverse policies and their results in a wide range of countries.

This book analyses eleven experiences with public procurement of innovation in countries as diverse as Australia, China, Greece and the US, including consciously proactive governments and ‘‘no policy’’ hands-off ones.

Having been a public servant in charge of technological development in the Ministry of Industry in Venezuela, I am acutely aware of the difficulties involved in using public procurement as a tool to strengthen and encourage production and the even greater complexity of using it to induce innovation. That personal background also makes me appreciate all the more the usefulness of having such a varied set of experiences described, analysed and compared. It has always been desirable to have a social science perspective on policy innovation and its relative effectiveness; in the current circumstances, when decline threatens the advanced countries while the governments of the emerging and developing countries face unprecedented opportunities and daunting challenges, it is a crucial input.

This book is destined to become indispensable reading for policy makers in all countries. In one way or another, promoting innovation is no longer an additional element of economic strategy. Whatever the position of a country in the global economy, innovation will be a central part of any strategy for seeking a better future. The authors are keenly aware of this and have provided an invaluable resource to help policy makers and politicians to intelligently incorporate innovation procurement into the tool-kit of economic and development policy. I hope that it will also inspire researchers to delve deeper into the many aspects of innovative public policy to serve as a guide for action in these complex and uncertain times.”