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The Evolutionary Dynamics of Discursive Knowledge

Communication-Theoretical Perspectives on an Empirical Philosophy of Science

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  • Open Access
  • © 2021

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  • Provides a thorough introduction in the relations among relevant theories (systems theory, evolution theory, and communication theory) and serves therefore interdisciplinarity
  • Elaborates the institutional Triple Helix of university-industry-government into a neo-evolutionary one explaining the potential for synergy in TH relations
  • Bridges the gap between qualitative theorizing about the dynamics of science and quantitative studies in science, technology, and innovation
  • Written by author who is a well-known scientometrician and a highly cited researcher
  • Is of interest to different audiences
  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access.

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Table of contents (11 chapters)

  1. The Sociocybernetics of Scientific Knowledge

  2. Synergy in Triple-Helix Relations

  3. The Dynamics of Expectations and Knowledge


About this book

This open access book addresses three themes which have been central to Leydesdorff's research: (1) the dynamics of science, technology, and innovation; (2) the scientometric operationalization of these concept; and (3) the elaboration in terms of a Triple Helix of university-industry-government relations. In this study, I discuss the relations among these themes. Using Luhmann's social-systems theory for modelling meaning processing and Shannon's theory for information processing, I show that synergy can add new options to an innovation system as redundancy. The capacity to develop new options is more important for innovation than past performance. Entertaining a model of possible future states makes a knowledge-based system increasingly anticipatory. The trade-off between the incursion of future states on the historical developments can be measured using the Triple-Helix synergy indicator. This is shown, for example, for the Italian national and regional systems of innovation.


“This is very interesting and promising research area which has great potential to enlarge our capabilities in understanding the dynamics of social systems and improve our forecast capabilities as to future yet to happing events. … The book seems highly relevant, written in clear concise language and should arouse great interest among the readers.” (Inga Ivanova, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, Vol. 167, 2021)


Authors and Affiliations

  • Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR), University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Loet Leydesdorff

About the author

Loet Leydesdorff (Ph.D. Sociology, M.A. Philosophy, and M.Sc. Biochemistry) is Professor emeritus at the Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR) of the University of Amsterdam. He is Associate Faculty at the Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU) of the University of Sussex, Visiting Professor of the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China (ISTIC) in Beijing, Guest Professor at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, and Visiting Fellow at the School of Management, Birkbeck, University of London. He has published extensively in systems theory, social network analysis, scientometrics, and the sociology of innovation (see at or With Henry Etzkowitz, he initiated a series of workshops, conferences, and special issues about the Triple Helix of University-Industry-Government Relations. He received the Derek de Solla Price Award for Scientometrics and Informetrics in 2003 and held “The City of Lausanne” Honor Chair at the School of Economics, Université de Lausanne, in 2005. In 2007, he was Vice-President of the 8th International Conference on Computing Anticipatory Systems (CASYS’07, Liège). Since 2014, the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI/Clarivate) lists him as a highly-cited author.

                    Google Scholar Web-of-Science Scopus

Publications 916                    407                    410

Citations      57,637               15,405               18,894

h-index        105                     62                     68

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Scopus ID:




Born:                            August 21, 1948 in Djakarta (Dutch Indies) 

Current Address:         Paradijsplein 88, 1093 NJ,  Amsterdam, The Netherlands 

Institutional Affiliation: Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASoR), University of Amsterdam 

Nationality:                  Dutch 

Marital status:             Married with two children



1984  Ph.D. in the Faculty of Social Sciences (sociology) 

1977  M.A. Philosophy 

1973  M.Sc. Biochemistry (cum laude) 

1969  B.Sc. Chemistry (cum laude) 

1966  Gymnasium β


2013            Honorary Fellow, Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR), University of Amsterdam

2014            Guest Professor at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou

2016-(2019)  Associate Faculty at SPRU – Science and Technology Policy Research of the University of Sussex

2014-2019    Listed among the most-highly cited authors (during the previous ten years) by Clarivate/Thomson Researchers

2017            Academician of the Intern. Academy for Systems and Cybernetic Sciences

2016            Honorary President of the Triple Helix Association

2015            Honorary President of the World Association for Triple Helix & Future Studies (WATEF), South Korea

2013            Emeritus, University of Amsterdam

2010-2018    Professor, “Communication and Innovation in the Dynamics of Science and Technology”, University of Amsterdam

2013-2016    Honorary Professor at SPRU – Science and Technology Policy Research of the University of Sussex

2007-2013    Honorary Fellow of SPRU – Science and Technology Policy Research of the University of Sussex

2013-2016    Visiting Professor at the School of Management, Birkbeck, University of London

2007            Visiting Professor at the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China (ISTIC) in Beijing

2007            Vice-President of the 8th Intern. Conf. on Computing Anticipatory Systems (Liège)

2006-2010    Honorary Research Fellow at the Virtual Knowledge Studio of the Netherlands Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences

2005            ‘City of Lausanne’ Honor Chair, University of Lausanne

2003            Derek de Solla Price Award for Quantitative Science Studies

2000-2010    Associate Professor, Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR), University of Amsterdam

1980-2000    Senior lecturer at the Department of Science & Technology Dynamics of the University of Amsterdam 

1998-1999    Visiting Researcher at the National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTEP), Tokyo

1996            Distinguished AGT-Visitor, Communication Studies, University of Calgary, Canada 

1990            Maître de Recherche, Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation, Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines, Paris (February/March) 

1976 -1980   Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam 

1978 -1981   Daily Board of the Amsterdam Science Shop 

1974 -1976   Assistant Professor for "Science and Society" at the Studium Generale of the University of Utrecht 

1972 -1973   Teaching assistant for "Science and Society" at the Philosophy Faculty of the University of Amsterdam 

1969 -1972   Part-time professor for chemical technology at the Rietveld Academy of Arts in Amsterdam


Associate Editor, Frontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics, 2016-;

Academic Editor, PeerJ Computer Science, 2015-;

Honorable Editor, Journal of Open Innovation, 2014-;

Associate Editor, Triple Helix, J. of University-Industry-Government Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 2014-; 

Scientometrics, 1987- ; Price Medal Laureates Board; 

Social Science Information, 1994- ;

Industry and Higher Education, 1997- ;

Cybermetrics 1997- ;

Journal of Technology Transfer, 1999- ;

Science & Public Policy, 2004- ;

Journal of Informetrics, 2006-2019;

Quantitative Science Studies (QSS), 2020-;

International Journal of Applied Systemic Studies, 2006- ;

RECIIS - Electronic J. in Communication, Information, and Innovation in Health, 2007- ;

The Open Communication Journal, 2007- 2015;

Journal of Knowledge-based Innovation in China, 2008 -;

COLLNET Journal of Scientometrics and Information Management, 2008- ;

Int. J. of Information Technologies and the Systems Approach (IJITSA), 2008- ;

Information, 2009- ; 

Intern. J. of Advance Computer Science and Information Technology (IJACSIT), 2013-;

Systema. Connecting matter, life, culture, and technology, 2013- ;

Journal of Contemporary Eastern Asia (JCEA), 2015- ;

Metalogicon, Int. J. of Pure and Applied Logic, Linguistics and Philosophy, 2015-;

Foresight. The journal of future studies, strategic thinking and policy / Форсайт, 2019-

Journal of University-Industry Collaboration, 2019- 

Contributing Editor to Science & Technology Studies, 1987-1988;

Contributing Editor to Science, Technology & Human Values, 1988-1990; 

Journal of the Int. Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics (JISSI), 1995-1998; 

Enterprise and Innovation Management Studies, 1999-2001; 

Education, Science, and Innovation in the Knowledge Society (book series), 2013-2015;

Science, Technology and Society, 2001-2002;

Science Forum, 科学观察, 2005- 2015;

tripleC: e-journal for cognition • communication • co-operation, 2002-2014. 

Crisis Communication, 2012-2015;.


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