A Taxonomy of National Innovation Systems: Lessons From an Exercise Comprising a Large Sample of Both Developed, Emerging and Developing Economies

Thumbnail Image
Godinho, Manuel Mira
Mendonça, Sandro F.
Pereira, Tiago Santos
Associated Organizations
Organizational Unit
Organizational Unit
Supplementary to
The aim of this paper is to put forward a taxonomy of national innovation systems (NISs). With that purpose in mind we will first implement a technique for mapping innovation systems that was developed by Godinho et al. (2003). Such mapping allows one to compare directly different NISs, by visualizing in bi-dimensional space the graphic pattern of the relevant dimensions of each innovation system. Next the quantitative output of this NISs mapping will be used as the basis for performing a cluster analysis in a second step. The resulting country groupings will be analysed for identifying the major factors separating different NISs types. This will be the basis for a definition of a possible NISs taxonomy. In the paper eight major dimensions along which innovation systems develop are highlighted. These dimensions include market conditions; institutional conditions; intangible and tangible investments; basic and applied knowledge; external communication; diffusion; and innovation. For materialising such eight NIS dimensions 29 individual indicators were selected for a total of 69 countries. These countries range from the most developed and largest economies in the world, through the emerging economies, to the less advanced developing countries. For each of the 8 relevant NIS dimensions between 2 and 6 of these 29 indicators were allocated. The definition of the NIS dimensions and the selection of indicators tried to respect theoretical and logic criteria of organization of the data. Overall the data basis that was developed and the methodological steps that were taken represent a unique attempt to cover such a large and diverse number of countries with the aim of analysing their behaviour in terms of creating, consolidating and advancing their national innovation systems. As it will be shown, the resulting outcomes of this paper have empirical, theoretical and normative potential. Following this introduction the paper is divided into five main sections. Section 2 presents the conceptual context of the mapping and taxonomisation exercise that will be carried out. In section 3 the method followed is described, with information about the observed NIS dimensions, about the variables aggregated into each of those dimensions and about the economies that were selected as well. Next section 4 presents the results of the empirical analysis, by concentrating first on the mapping of the individual NISs and then on the structure that stems from a cluster analysis. The clusters that emerged are observed in section 5, providing an interpretation for the contrasting positions of the different countries involved in this exercise. Finally, the concluding section attempts at a generalization based on the analyses of the previous sections, suggesting a possible taxonomy of national innovation systems.
Date Issued
Resource Type
Resource Subtype
Rights Statement
Rights URI