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European Economic Policymaking as Policy Diffusion: the Case of Innovation Policy

Lars Niklasson

The European Union is ambivalent on the role of states and markets. It is often described as neolib-eral, forcing the member states to deregulate. These effects are mainly attributed to, among others, competition policy, employment policy or macroeconomic policies. Nevertheless, the EU at the same time gives subsidies for the development of firms and industries, through its cohesion policy and Ramp;D policy (research and development). In the recently launched economic strategy called EU2020, the concept of an innovative union plays a leading role. In this paper, I want to test recent theories of policy diffusion to see if they can explain the adoption of the concept of an innovative union. I also want to discuss how they can complement other explanatory frameworks, such as rational choice institutionalism, historical institutionalism or theories about policy networks and epistemic communities.Innovation policy is generally studied in terms of its contents, by economists and others. There are some studies on the politics of these issues and even some studies on the diffusion of policy ideas. One of the few is a paper by Ulrika Mouml;rth more than 15 years ago (1996). I will take inspiration from the more recent literature on the convergence of environmental policy (Holzinger, Knill amp; Arts 2008) and the more general work on the diffusion of markets and democracy (Simmons, Garret, Dobbins 2008). These issues are discussed in different ways in comparative politics and international relations.

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