The Characteristics of Small Country National Innovation Systems

  • Tõnu RoolahtEmail author
Part of the Innovation, Technology, and Knowledge Management book series (ITKM, volume 15)


The systemic approach to innovation processes started to emerge already in the 1980s. Since then there has been an elaborate theoretical discussion about national innovation systems and their development. There has been much less empirical research on the phenomenon. This chapter aims to outline the specific characteristics of small-scale national innovation systems. The discussion is predominantly based on a fragmented body of empirical works about various elements of innovation systems and policies. The evidence shows that small countries are not homogeneous in their development pattern or commitment to innovation. Some smaller economies belong among the world leaders in innovation and others lag far behind. The major commonalities of small innovation systems include the higher importance of inward FDI and knowledge flows, well-integrated actions and policy schemes, extensive international collaboration and cluster memberships, clear development focus, human and social capital and higher flexibility than in larger innovation systems.


Foreign Direct Investment Gross Domestic Product Innovation System Small Country Innovation Policy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study has been prepared with financial support received from the Estonian Science Foundation (Grants 7405, 8546 and 8580) and from the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (Target Financing SF0180037s08).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Economics and Business AdministrationUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia

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