Agency and structure: a social simulation of knowledge-intensive industries

  • Petra AhrweilerEmail author
  • Nigel Gilbert
  • Andreas Pyka


Modern knowledge-intensive economies are complex social systems where intertwining factors are responsible for the shaping of emerging industries: the self-organising interaction patterns and strategies of the individual actors (an agency-oriented pattern) and the institutional frameworks of different innovation systems (a structure-oriented pattern). In this paper, we examine the relative primacy of the two patterns in the development of innovation networks, and find that both are important. In order to investigate the relative significance of strategic decision making by innovation network actors and the roles played by national institutional settings, we use an agent-based model of knowledge-intensive innovation networks, SKIN. We experiment with the simulation of different actor strategies and different access conditions to capital in order to study the resulting effects on innovation performance and size of the industry. Our analysis suggests that actors are able to compensate for structural limitations through strategic collaborations. The implications for public policy are outlined.


Innovation networks Agent-based social simulation Innovation systems 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UCD Innovation Research Unit IRU, CASLUniversity College DublinDublinIreland
  2. 2.Centre for Research in Social SimulationUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK
  3. 3.Economics DepartmentUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany

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