Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 1379–1397 | Cite as

On sector-non-neutral innovation policy: towards new design principles

  • Dominique ForayEmail author
Regular Article


The paper addresses the shift from a moderate innovation policy to a more radical one, aimed at radical transformations of existing structures, such as accelerating innovation to address grand societal challenges or to modernize a traditional sector. In this paper, we propose an analytical framework based on the identification of three constitutive rationales of policy intervention in the domain of innovation. This approach introduces the distinction between moderate and stronger modes of intervention. Stronger modes are characterised by a higher degree of intentionality, centralization and focus. The last part of the paper is devoted to certain principles of policy design under which the risks of such a shift can be minimized and positive effects can be maximized.


Innovation policy Non-neutral policy Eclectic approach Policy design 

JEL Classification

025 031 038 



Earlier versions of this paper were presented at several workshops and seminars in 2016 and 2017: “Incentivizing the Grand Challenges” (Geneva, November 11th 2016), “Evaluation des politiques publiques” (Paris Bercy, November 15th, 2016) and “Evolutionary Economics and Policy” (Marburg, July 8th, 2017). The author would like to thank all seminar and workshop participants for their suggestions and comments and gratefuly acknowledge scholarly advice and great support by David C.Mowery, Tim Swanson, Philippe Aghion and Thomas Brenner, as well as by two anonymous referees.


This paper has been supported by an SNSF (Swiss National Science Foundation) Grant (n°CRSII1_147612).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chair of Economics and Management of InnovationInstitute of Technology and Public Policy, College of Management, EPFLLausanneSwitzerland

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