From exclusion to inclusion in public innovation support? Innovative practices in bottom-up networks

Malin Lindberg


This article examines whether hitherto marginalized actors, industries and innovations – such as women, services industries and service innovations – could be acknowledged by the use of a bottom-up approach in innovation research in a way that helps make public innovation support more inclusive. It is scrutinized whether the relation between context, organization and outcomes in publically financed innovation networks such as clusters and innovation systems serves to highlight how more inclusive innovation support could be designed. Four regional innovation networks promoting women’s entrepreneurship and innovation in Sweden are analyzed by a bottom-up approach, since while emphasizing decentralization and inclusion in theory, most innovation theories and policies are in practice characterized by a top-down approach, ascribing superiority to certain actors, industries and innovations while marginalizing others in a distinct – often gendered – pattern. The bottom-up approach makes it possible to expose that being a marginalized actor in public innovation support is related to the organization of entrepreneurial types of innovation systems, based on contacts established ad hoc and resources gathered from scratch, making a wider range of actors, industries and innovations relevant than in institutional types of innovation systems favored in prevalent public innovation support. By acknowledging both types of innovation systems, more inclusive innovation policies could be designed and more nuanced innovation theories could be developed.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413