Innovation : formation of a policy field and a policy-making practice

Marja-Liisa Niinikoski

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


Science, technology and innovation (STI) policy research has established its position as a subsector of policy studies. Various approaches have been developed to describe and analyse changes of STI policies. Existing approaches explain the changes through policy learning, convergence mechanisms, or adaptation and translation of ideas. In this dissertation I aim to expand understanding of the conditions of STI policy changes, and analyse the formation of Finnish innovation policy from the late 1980s until the late 2000s. The objective of the study is to investigate historical conditions enabling the formation and change of the policy. I ask how the meanings of innovation and innovation policy have been constructed in Finnish public policy. I examine innovation policy as a discourse drawing on the Foucauldian archaeological approach. The empirical material consists of documentary data, interviews, and participant observations. The main emphasis is on the analysis of documentary material, while the other sources complement the view of the studied phenomenon. The serial and comparative analysis methods have been used to uncover and analyse policy changes. Firstly, I have identified three phases of Finnish innovation policy during the studied period. I distinguished the phases according to the identified prevailing policy knowledge and policymaking practices in each phase. In the emerging phase the policy was based on technoeconomic knowledge, which turned into industrial-economic one, and in the last phase into innovation policy based on socio-economic knowledge. Although new conceptualisations stemming from various expertise fields have served the expansion of the policy, the essence of innovation policy is still entangled with economic relations. Besides these phases a tightening process could be identified during the 2000s. This process deepened the relations between research, industries and markets not only nationally but also in relation to the European Union. Secondly, three thresholds in the current policy have been identified according to their formalisation levels in the national policy system. Thirdly, the study reveals the birth of a new type of policy-making practice. The expansion of innovation-oriented public policy-making, used wider than the identified meaning of innovation policy, creates a new type of discursive space. Since it turns policy-making towards more open-ended policy solutions, the new practice can increase the non-transparency found in policy-making, if special attention is not paid to how these practices are carried out.
The study expands the understanding of the conditions of innovation policy changes, and introduces the concept of policy knowledge. The study shows, how policy-makers are bound by temporally and spatially identifiable policy knowledge and its formation practices, and how the boundaries of policy knowledge can be changed. By emphasising the archaeological core of Foucauldian discourse analysis the study also contributes to Foucauldian methodological research.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Välikangas, Liisa, Supervising Professor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-4118-6
Publication statusPublished - 2011
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • innovaatiot
  • operaatiotutkimus
  • prosessit
  • innovation
  • operational research
  • processes


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